Despite constant effort from wildlife agencies across Africa, poaching is still sadly a common occurrence.
Now, however, it seems the crime of poaching could be upgraded to a capital offence, meaning poachers could face the death penalty.
A spokesperson for Najib Balala, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, said they wanted ‘stiffer sentences’ for poachers, and they would push parliament for the new laws to be introduced.
Speaking at the official launch for a commemorative stamp after the recent death of Sudan, the last male northern white rhino, the spokesperson said the current punishment for poaching is not enough, Xinhua News reports.
We have in place the Wildlife Conservation Act that was enacted in 2013 and which fetches offenders a life sentence of a fine of 200,000 U.S dollars.
However, this has not been deterrence enough to curb poaching, hence the proposed stiffer sentence.
A representative for the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, where the speech was held, said that ‘life in prison’ and the ‘death penalty’ were both mentioned in the speech.
The announcement came after the news that three rhinos – two black rhinos and a calf – were killed by poachers in Meru National Park, Kenya.
The poaching trend has been on a downward trend thanks to law enforcement efforts in the area and Government investment in conservation. In 2017, Kenya lost 69 elephants out of a population of 34,000 and nine rhinos out of 1,000.
The Kenyan minister was making a speech at Ol Pejeta Conservancy where, earlier this year, the last male northern white rhino in the world sadly died, his species will soon be extinct.
Sudan, a 45-year-old northern white rhinoceros, had to be put down after becoming gravely ill due to age-related complications.
Protected by armed guards John Mugo and Daniel Maina at the conversancy in Laikipia County, Kenya, Sudan lived with the last two surviving females, Najin and Fatu, but attempts to mate him with them failed, as both females suffer from conditions which make them incapable of pregnancy.
After the organisation discovered this last year, they created an account for Sudan on the dating app Tinder, aiming to help fund the development of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) for rhinos.
As reported by National Geographic, his bio read:
I’m one of a kind. No seriously. I’m the last male white rhino on planet Earth. I don’t mean to be too forward, but the fate of my species literally depends on me.
I perform well under pressure. I like to eat grass and chill in the mud. No problems. Six foot tall and 5,000 if it matters.
There is still hope for the species, however, as progressions with IVF are still possible, meaning one day, scientists may be able to use Sudan’s unique sperm to impregnate a female rhino.
This can either be Najin or Fatu, or even a surrogate southern white rhino – a much more common species.
Before Sudan died, heartbreaking photos were shared of wildlife ranger Zacharia Mutai comforting the rhino in his last moments.
Sudan, the last male white rhino on Earth, passed away yesterday at his home in Kenya. Photographer @amivitale was there after covering Sudan for many years. Vitale – "With a heavy heart, I share this news and hope that Sudan's legacy will awaken us to protect this magnificent and fragile planet. Yesterday, Zachariah Mutai comforted Sudan, the last living male Northern White Rhino moments before he passed away. Sudan lived a long, healthy life at the conservancy after he was brought to Kenya from @safari_park_dvur_kralov in the #czechrepublic in 2009. He died surrounded by people who loved him at @olpejeta after suffering from age-related complications. The two female northern white rhinos left on the planet are his direct descendants. The impact that this special animal has had on conservation is simply incredible. And there is still hope in the future that the subspecies might be restored through IVF. Support this important work: http://donate.olpejetaconservancy.org/projects/sudan"
Let’s hope Sudan’s legacy can be carried on for future generations of rhinos.
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