The Kenyan Court yesterday fined four Chinese “smugglers” USD 1360 (KES 119,000) for getting caught with USD 24,000 (KES 2.1 million) worth of ivory. While some poachers have felt the cold sting of death at the hands of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Rangers, these offenders managed to get away with what some may term as a slap on the wrist.
The offenders include one Gu Guisheng, Xuefeng Liu, Qu Rongjune and Wang Chengbang. They were intercepted in Kenya while en route from the Democratic Republic of Congo to China’s Guangzhou airport. After the charges were levelled against them, the defendants said that they did not know that it was illegal to carry ivory through Kenya.
The AFP seems to believe that they were, in fact, aware of their crimes because the Agency has repeatedly referred to them as smugglers.
According to Animal Rights Action, one Kilogram of Ivory costs between USD 1,000 (KES 87,500) and USD 1,500 (KES 131,300) in the Asian Market. These lucky travellers had 9.6 Kilograms (21 Pounds) of the stuff on them when they got busted.
Al Jazeera reports that a pound of ivory costs USD 1000 in major markets, meaning that these smugglers were carrying USD 21,000 (KES 1.8 million) worth of goods.
On the other hand, AFP (Agence France Presse) reports that the market value was actually in the field of USD 24,000 (KES 2.1 million).
The four offenders will each pay USD 340 (almost KES 29,800), which is a combined total of KES 119,000, barely 5.7% of the value of the illegal goods they carried. If they fail to do so, they face up to 6 and a half years in prison.
Magistrate Timothy Okello, who presided over the sentence on Sunday, said that the punishment for the crime was regrettable. He noted that Kenyan Laws needed to be amended in order to reflect the gravity of such matters.
The sentence comes mere weeks before the KWS plans to deploy an anti-poaching drone above 90,000 acres of conservancy land in a bid to fight the illegal trade.