The government has issued a 21-day amnesty for Kenyans to surrender any wildlife trophies they hold without a Kenya Wildlife Service permit.
The offer was issued as the government seeks a total global ban on ivory and rhino horn. Those who fail to surrender the trophies will face the law.
“In the spirit of the upcoming ivory and rhino horn burning, I would like to offer a 21-day amnesty for the surrender of any wildlife trophies, which are held without a permit issued by the Kenya Wildlife Service,” Cabinet Secretary for Environment Judi Wakhungu said on Wednesday.
She was speaking at Nairobi National Park as she inspected the venue for the planned April 30 burning of elephant ivory and rhino horn.
According to Prof Wakhungu, anybody holding any ivory, rhino horn or any other wildlife trophies, jewellery or trinkets made from the animal parts should surrender them to the KWS director-general at KWS headquarters in Nairobi.
Alternatively, they can surrender the trophies to KWS assistant directors at regional offices in Mombasa, Voi, Nyeri, Marsabit, Kitale, Nakuru and Meru National Park.
She added: “Those who take advantage of this amnesty will not be punished.”
The amnesty is effective from Wednesday.
Kenya, led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and 10 other African presidents, will set ablaze more than 120 tonnes of ivory and rhino horn.
This will be the world’s largest stockpile of elephant and rhino horn products ever to be burnt.
“As a government, we are attaching great significance to this state event and the President looks forward to hosting his peers and other dignitaries from all over the world who will come to express solidarity with our conservation efforts,” she said.
Prof Wakhungu said poaching of elephants and rhinos is a major problem across much of Africa.
“It threatens the very survival of these iconic species. Poaching is facilitated by international criminal syndicates and fuels corruption, it undermines the rule of law and security and in some cases, provides funding for other criminal activities.
“This not only harms the sustainable economic development of local communities but also national economies,” she stated.
Kenya has in the past three years intensified efforts to combat elephant poaching and the illegal trade in elephant ivory within and across its borders.
Prof Wakhungu credited the decline of poaching incidents to formulation and implementation of wildlife legislation with heavy penalties.
She also cited fortified enforcement mechanisms as a deterrent to wildlife crime, as well as collaboration in international and national inter-agency wildlife law enforcement.
“Kenya remains committed to ensuring that elephants and rhinos are accorded the highest level of protection,” she said.