AP PHoto Kenyan Wildlife Service officials say arm
NAIROBI, Kenya — Chris Donohue was driving his wife and kids through the world’s only safari park that borders a major city last weekend when they found a prized sighting: three male lions close together. Then the Donohues saw why. Nearby a rhino lay dead, its horn sliced off and stomach opened up.
Donohue, an American who lives in Nairobi, said Tuesday that the sight made him nauseous.
“The kids were like, ‘Daddy, was that rhino sick?’ And we were like, no, we’re pretty sure it was poached,” said Donohue, who takes his kids to Nairobi National Park several times a year. “For me it was pretty traumatic to see it.”
Gun-wielding poachers slaughtered the pregnant rhinoceros while it stood near a watering hole Friday. It was the first killing of a rhino in Nairobi National Park in six years, the Kenya Wildlife Service said.
“It shows the great heights these criminals are willing to go,” said Paul Udoto, the wildlife service’s spokesman. “It’s something we are taking very seriously because it’s a new level of poaching for us. And it is indeed very daring.”
The killing is the latest case in a worrying poaching trend, as demand in China and other Asian countries for elephant ivory and rhino horn increases. Kenya saw 29 rhinos killed by poachers last year. This year 35 have already been killed.
Kenya’s anti-poaching laws are antiquated and weak. When four Chinese men pleaded guilty in January to charges of smuggling ivory, they received no jail time and were fined less than $400 each, money that pales in comparison to the tens of thousands of dollars smuggled ivory will sell for in Asia.
That could now be changing, though. Kenya’s parliament is expected next month to take up a wildlife bill with greatly increased jail terms and fines.
The proposed bill in its latest form calls for a minimum fine of nearly $115,000, or a minimum prison term of 15 years — or both — for a person who commits crimes related to endangered or threatened species. Those in possession of wildlife trophies face a minimum fine of nearly $15,000 or five years in prison or both. Sport hunters also face harsher penalties.MORE IN Wire News
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