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A Harsh New Reality for Ivory Smugglers in Kenya

Ivory smuggling has continued to plague most game reserves in the world especially in Africa where the highest number of Elephants live. Kenya has been on the fore front in the fight designed to stem ivory smuggling. The country has tightened its belt in this war against poaching and recently made to law the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act.

Kenya is known world over as the “Home of African Wildlife Safari” with elephants being among the main attractions in Kenyan game parks such as Masai Mara, Amboseli, Meru, Aberdare and Tsavo East. Unfortunately people are shooting, poisoning, and spearing the elephants at a very high rate and some scientists already consider them “ecologically extinct.”

For this reason the country has become very serious about ivory smugglers in Kenya and has vowed not to let any smuggler or poacher go unpunished. Just weeks after the Act was made into law, a Nairobi court passed a record sentence on a Chinese ivory smuggler, the first person to be convicted under the new tough law. Tang Yong Jian pleaded guilty to ivory smuggling and was fined 20million Kenyan shillings or face up to seven years in jail if unable to pay the fine.

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Each kilo of ivory can sell for up to 18,000 Kenyan shillings (£126) locally and can fetch up to 10 times that price when the items are taken to Asia. Ivory is sought after for jewelry and decorative purposes. Asian consumers buy smuggled ivory for its alleged powerful healing properties.

In the past, fines for wildlife crime were capped at 40,000 Kenyan shillings or 10 years in prison. Worst still, poachers in Kenya, were fined as little as a dollar for each piece of ivory, a mere slap on the wrist, despite ivory trading being banned in 1989. Therefore, the world over applauds the new positive step Kenya has taken towards curbing illegal hunting and trafficking of wildlife products.

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