Poachers fail to raise Hs1m bond

Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY KINGS WAWERU

FOUR suspected poachers who killed a rhino a month ago have been given a Sh1 million bond each by a Nanyuki court. Saimoti Kiloris, Misia Kaunga, Tumbesi Lengei and Kisia Shuel were ordered to remit the sureties at the court by senior resident magistrate Bethwel Kimtai.

The four are charged that on April 4 this year, they killed a rhino at Il-Ng’wesi ranch in Laikipia County with intent to steal the trophy, an offense which they had earlier denied before Chief Magistrate Jesse Nyaga.

The rhino, nicknamed Omni was the only black rhino at Il’Ng’wesi ranch, which is managed by the local community.The rhino was donated to the community by the government through Lewa Downs Conservancy in 2002.

Early last week, the suspects appeared for a mention of their case, where they pleaded to be released on bail, but the prosecution, led by Job Kaiga opposed, claiming police were not through with investigation, and that they intended to prefer more charges against the four.

 By the time of going to press, none of the suspects had managed to raise the money and they were still locked at Nanyuki G.K Prison. This could probably be the highest bond terms granted to poaching suspects in the history of Kenya, especially those charged under the penal code and the existing Wildlife Act.

The new terms comes at a time when conservationists have been blaming the government and parliament of delay in tabling the Wildlife Bill, which is believed to propose punitive measures against criminals engaging in poaching and other wildlife related crimes.

“While we are extremely saddened by the death of Omni at the hands of poachers, we are pleased to announce that since we released the information, the magistrate in Kenya has set the highest ever bail in respect of wildlife crime in the country for the four culprits," communications manager at Ol’Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia, Elodie Sampere, said in a statement.

“This is an encouraging sign that the Kenya government is taking poaching crimes seriously. We hope this judgment will set a precedent and become a serious deterrent against poachers,” he said..