Lack of stiff penalties ‘fuels ivory trade’

Wednesday January 30 2013

PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA From left: Qu Rongjun, Xuefeng Liu, Gu Guisheng and Wang Chengbang are led into a court in Nairobi on January 29 2013 to answer to charges of smuggling ivory.

PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA From left: Qu Rongjun, Xuefeng Liu, Gu Guisheng and Wang Chengbang are led into a court in Nairobi on January 29 2013 to answer to charges of smuggling ivory. NATION MEDIA GROUP

By NATION CORRESPONDENTS

A Nairobi court has blamed the increase of illegal ivory trade on lack of stringent punishment for offenders.

Weak laws in the Penal Code could not discourage the lucrative trade, Makadara senior principal magistrate Tom Okello said on Tuesday.

Mr Okello spoke as he fined four Chinese traders Sh120,000 for being in illegal possession of ivory ornaments worth Sh4.9 million at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Sunday.

“They have pleaded guilty to the charges of being in possession of game trophy without certificates of ownership, contrary to section 42 of the Wildlife and Conservation Act,” the magistrate said.

The traders were Qu Rongjun, Xuefeng Liu, Gu Guisheng and Wang Chenhbang.

The Chinese Embassy on Tuesday disassociated itself from the four.

Chief information officer Shifan Wu said the four had gone against the rule of the land individually, adding that China attached importance to the control of ivory trade.

“China has added the African elephant to the list of first class wildlife under special trade protection to save the elephants” he said.