UK raises red flag over poaching in Kenya

Tuesday February 19 2013

UK Minister for Natural Resources Richard Benyon and Environment and Natural Resources PS Ali Mohamed at the British High Commission Residence. Mr Benyon warned that illegal poaching could fuel global terrorism February 18, 2013. CORRESPONDENT

UK Minister for Natural Resources Richard Benyon and Environment and Natural Resources PS Ali Mohamed at the British High Commission Residence. Mr Benyon warned that illegal poaching could fuel global terrorism February 18, 2013. CORRESPONDENT  

By LEONARD MUTINDA [email protected]

The United Kingdom has warned that profits from illegal ivory trade may be used to fund terrorism unless urgent action is taken to stem the vice.

The UK is now calling for a concerted effort from the international community to end the poaching menace before it takes the new form.

Speaking Monday at an event bringing together wildlife conservation organisations in Nairobi, UK Minister for Natural Resources Richard Benyon warned the international community against treating poaching in Kenya as an isolated incidence.

He said there is need to act with urgency to curtail poaching that has escalated despite various intervention measures.

He said this even as 600 pieces of ivory worth Sh100 million were intercepted at the Port of Mombasa last month headed for Indonesia.  

“This is not a Kenyan or African problem but an international crisis,” Mr Benyon said.

British High Commissioner to Kenya Christian Turner said such large scale poaching of elephants threatens not only Africa’s beautiful wildlife, impacting on tourist trade but also poses a growing threat to security.

“If we are going to break the chain of criminal activity, Kenya is going to need the support of the international and the business community,” said Dr Turner.

One such ways the international community can assist Kenya, the UK Minister said is by cutting the illegal supply chain that goes all the way to the far-east where there is great demand for ivory and tasks.

In particular, China has come under sharp criticism for seemingly not doing enough to deter the practice that is flourishing within its borders under the illegal supply chain.

The visiting Minister said there is need to deal with demand and supply if gains are to be made against the vice.

"We should be looking at ways of cutting down the illegal supply chain,” said Mr Benyon.

The UK minister said the country will rally the international community to adopt a more aggressive approach to poaching during next month’s CITES (Cop 16) meeting in Bangkok.

“We will seek ways of securing better protection for species that are subject to unsustainable levels of trade and to combat illegal trade more effectively,” he said.

He also challenged China and other nations where the illegal trade is flourishing to take a more active role to end the menace.

The Permanent Secretary in the Environment Ministry Ali Mohamed termed the poaching as an international disaster.

“This is a global problem and it needs a global approach if we are to succeed in preserving our wildlife and delicate ecosystem as well,” he said.

He observed that in a span of three years close to 1,000 elephants have been killed .