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February 20, 2018

UN states back war on illicit wildlife traffi cking

A Kenya Wildlife Service offi cer piles some of the 105 tonnes of ivory in Nairobi National Park for torching on April 30, 2016 /JACK OWUOR
A Kenya Wildlife Service offi cer piles some of the 105 tonnes of ivory in Nairobi National Park for torching on April 30, 2016 /JACK OWUOR

Kenya has thrown her weight behind a global resolution aimed at tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife.

The resolution was adopted on Monday by 193 UN member states during the 71st session of the UN General Assembly.

It seeks to reinforce focus on key areas in the fight against illegal wildlife trafficking.

They include enhanced national legislation, supporting sustainable livelihoods, stronger law enforcement, countering corruption, deploying information technologies and undertaking well-targeted demand reduction efforts.

According to the resolution, there should be firm and strengthened national measures, and an enhanced regional and global response.

It shifts focus to supply and demand, calling for the strengthening of legislation necessary for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of offences.

It wants certain wildlife crimes treated as serious crimes, providing for illegal trade in wildlife offences to be treated as predicate offences (for anti-money laundering offences), recording and monitoring seizures and successful prosecutions, supporting the exchange of evidence between states and taking steps to prohibit, prevent and counter corruption.

Environment CS Judi Wakhungu yesterday told the Star Kenya has done a lot in not only raising awareness worldwide about the dangers of illicit wildlife trade, but also brought it to the attention of the UN assembly.

“We have played our role and we are proud of this achievement,” she said.

Kenya’s Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013, has some of the highest penalties in the world.

Individuals found with wildlife trophies face a fine of Sh20 million or life imprisonment when convicted.

“The UNGA resolution therefore enhances our efforts and existing enforcement work with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Interpol and others,” Wakhungu said. 

CITES secretary general John Scanlon welcomed the resolution.

“This new UNGA resolution reinforces the heightened level of political concern over the devastating impacts these highly destructive crimes are having on wildlife and people,”he said. 

Many of the species mentioned in the resolution are protected under CITES, such as the elephant, rhino, marine and freshwater turtles, sharks, ornamental fish, pangolins, great apes, parrots, raptors, helmeted hornbill, big cats, rosewood, agarwood and sandalwood.

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