Elephant and Rhino Poachers Could Soon Face Death Penalty in Kenya

Fines and lifelong jail sentences haven’t stopped wildlife poachers, so Kenya proposes death penalty

A proposal to make poaching endangered animals punishable by death is on the fast-track to becoming law in Kenya.

Killing endangered wildlife is already punishable by a fine of $200,000 or a life sentence in jail, but the penalties aren’t steep enough to deter poachers hoping to earn a small fortune for elephant or rhino tusks.

Elephants’ ivory tusks are sold for $1000 a pound and then carved into jewelry, utensils, religious figurines and other trinkets to be sold in Asia.

Rhino horns are believed to treat impotence, fever, cancer, hangovers and other medical ailments and are sold for around $30,000 a pound.

Poaching rates have gone down around 80 percent since the Wildlife Conservation Act imposed stiffer penalties in 2013, but Kenyan authorities say the law is still not strict enough to keep the species from going extinct.

There are only around 34,000 elephants left in Kenya and fewer than 1000 black rhinos.

In 2017, nine rhinos and 69 elephants were killed by poachers, which is enough to “virtually cancel out the overall population growth rate,” the Save the Rhino organization told The Independent.

The move could put Kenya in conflict with the United Nations, which opposes the death penalty for all crimes worldwide.