While the war on ivory poaching has most of the world – and almost all of Hollywood – up in arms, the battle seems to matter little to some in Keya.
Four Chinese citizens caught smuggling ivory through Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport were fined $340 USD this week for their crime. This slap on the hand has conservationists, anti-poaching groups, activists, and hunters up in arms. Even the magistrate that handed down the fine was disgusted but said his hands were tied given that ivory poaching is still considered a petty crime in Kenya.
In contrast, ivory poachers in neighboring Uganda will face fines starting at $75,188 USD and a 10-year prison sentence once an amendment to the Wildlife Act passes in the next few months.
While many are calling for stricter laws in Keya, a change is unlikely as government elections are upcoming.
It is interesting to note that since Kenya banned hunting in 1977 its wildlife has decreased by as much as 75 percent thanks to poaching, habitat loss, and human encroachment. This is especially sad considering many, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, point to Kenya as a model of conservation citing their complete and total ban on sport hunting.