Kenya’s efforts to fight poaching and illegal trade in wildlife have been recognised by the United Nations.
Mr John E. Scanlon, the United Nation’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Secretary-General, noted that Kenya had passed a law with stiffer penalties against poachers and wildlife traffickers.
He was speaking in Guangzhou, China today where he had gone to witness the destruction of confiscated ivory tusks and carvings as part of efforts to raise awareness of elephant poaching.
Mr Scanlon said: “And just ten months after the conclusion of CITES CoP16, we are seeing enhanced measures taken across range, transit and destination States – such as in Kenya where new wildlife laws that impose significantly higher penalties for those involved in wildlife crime have been assented to by President Kenyatta, and in Malaysia where the Department of Wildlife and National Parks has filled 43 new posts for enforcement and prosecution.”
Officials in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, pulverised 6.1 tons of confiscated tusks and carvings in an event attended by representatives from 10 countries including the UK, and elephant states including Kenya, Gabon, and Tanzania.
The function was also attended by the Kenyan Ambassador to China, HE Kinyanjui, Assistant Director for International Affairs, US Fish &Wildlife Service Mr Brian Arroyo and high-ranking Chinese environment officials. The burning of the 6.1 tonnes of ivory stockpiled over the years marks the first major commitment by the Chinese government to publicly fight the multi-billion-dollar illegal wildlife trade.
In a letter addressed to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) last week, China invited representatives from foreign embassies, international organisations, and government departments to witness the event.
The Department of International Co-operation and the State Forestry Administration announced the intention to burn illegal ivory and other wildlife products in Guangzhou — a major hub for ivory trade — after concerted international pressure to close its market for animal trophies.
China has prepared and is implementing its comprehensive National Ivory Action Plan, as agreed with the CITES Standing Committee. The Plan has been shared with the Committee, which will discuss it and the other seven plans in July.
Amongst other initiatives, China led the first cross-continent wildlife enforcement effort known as Operation Cobra, has agreed collaborative enforcement-related initiatives through the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and most recently China (Hong Kong SAR) returned seized ivory and rhino horn to South Africa. China has also provided funding to the African Elephant Fund and MIKE, and in-kind support to African range States, which will be further enhanced over the coming year.
Kenya’s proposal to fight poaching of elephants and rhinos won backing during the CITES meeting held early this year in Bangkok,
Thailand. The country has since submitted an ‘Ivory Trade Action Plan to reduce poaching & Ivory Trafficking’.
This was after Kenya was blacklisted among the so called ‘gang of eight’ for fuelling environmental crime within the region as a major transit and source country for ivory.
The objective of Kenya’s national action plan is a collaborative effort to ensure elephant poaching and illegal trade in elephant ivory is reduced to the bare minimum.
The key thematic areas of the Action Plan are:
Legislation and regulations
Enforcement actions, investigations and national inter-agency collaboration and coordination
International and regional wildlife enforcement collaboration
Outreach, public awareness and education
National reporting to CITES Secretariat and Standing Committee