It is estimated that since 2011, at least 20,000 elephants are poached across Africa annually and their tusks harvested in the most gruesome way. According to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), 163 elephants and 35 rhinos were poached in various parts of the country in 2014.
The increase of wildlife crime over the last decade has been astounding; resulting in an advanced conscious shift in the discourse between law enforcement and key stakeholders. It is a global realisation that sustainable solutions addressing this economically debilitating situation must be achieved.
One of LWF’s mandates focuses on the creation of platforms aimed at bringing together voices that can reach consensus in the action that must be taken to conserve Laikipia’s ecosystem, with the hope that best practices developed will be adopted by stakeholders countrywide. And so on 21st March 2015 LWF held the second judicial dialogue on wildlife crime at the Sweetwaters Camp - Ol Pejeta. The meeting brought together the Judiciary, Police, KWS and various Conservancies to discuss challenges facing the prosecution of wildlife related crimes.
One fundamental point of concern raised during the 21st March discussions was that poachers in Kenya have often been released due to unsatisfactory evidence, mainly attributed to the “sufficient evidence” clause. In a nut shell, poachers must be linked directly to the crime committed even though the system is not well equipped to do so.
There are various factors contributing to wildlife crime such as the poor recording of statements; rising poverty levels of communities residing next to wildlife habitats; the reluctant testimony from eye witnesses and the illegal grazing of animals in protected areas including private ranches.
Avid environmental conservationists in Kenya have a lot to be thrilled after the marking of this year’s World Forest Day celebrations that took place at the Yaaku Cultural Centre next to Mukogodo – Nanyuki County, on 21st March. The setting of the event was Mukogodo Forest, one of East Africa’s few indigenous forests, and the venue perfect to celebrate strides made in forest conservation as well as raise awareness on the importance that forests play in ecosystems across the globe.
According to the United Nations, forests cover one third of the Earth's land mass, supporting the livelihood of approximately 1.6 billion people - including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures. It is for this reason that the UN General Assembly purposefully set aside March 21 so that platforms across the world can discuss how to conserve forests as well as develop mitigating strategies that address the destruction of forests.