Poachers slaughtered a rhino in Nairobi National Park over the weekend as confirmed by KWS Officials. This brazen attack comes despite tough new laws designed in the newly passed Wildlife bill to stem a surge of such killings and the government efforts to secure our Wildlife.
“Nairobi National Park is one of the best protected areas, so it is a really shocking thing for us,” KWS spokesman Paul Udoto.
“The rhino horns were hacked and taken away… investigations are underway.”
Nairobi National Park is a major rhino sanctuary seen as ideal for breeding and restocking other parks and sanctuaries all over the country and it has been previously believed a secure environment as it is fenced in for much of its 117 square kilometres.
The shooting of a second rhino in less than a 6 months in the heavily guarded, small and enclosed park shows that there are several loopholes requiring heavier measures to be put in place to guard our Heritage – the Wildlife. The first rhino in the last five years in Nairobi Park was killed by poachers in August 2013 and its horns hacked and carried away.
Nairobi National Park is the Headquarters of Kenya Wildlife Service and close to the country’s capital city and is described as “a unique ecosystem by being the only protected area in the world close to a capital city”.
For more than 15 years Kenyan Courts and Wildlife Stakeholders have had a hard time punishing and prosecuting poachers within the limited wildlife bill.
The new Wildlife Act signed into law provides for stiffer penalties with poachers now facing fines as much as Sh20 million and possible life in jail. Previously, punishment for the most serious wildlife crimes was capped at a maximum fine of Kshs40, 000, and a possible jail term of up to 10 years. Many poachers prosecuted in court have been paying the fine of Kshs 30,000 or serving six months only in prison.
Poaching has risen sharply in Africa in recent years, with rhinos and elephants particularly hard hit for their horns and tusks respectively. The shooting of a second rhino in Nairobi Park shows how easily poachers are devastating our Country’s and Continent’s large animals and stern actions need to be taken now.
The hacked horns and tusks are smuggled to Asian consumers who believe it has healing properties despite being made of Keratin the same material as our hair and fingernails.
Wildlife officials confirmed that plans are being implemented from last year to microchip all rhinos in the country, just over 1,000 animals altogether as a measure of securing them.
Kenya is also a key transit point for ivory smuggled from across the region.
Written by Nyawira Njenga