Update 12 April 2019 : Najib Balala has since retracted on that statement quoted by many media and he has refuted that he said this or that it was stated on his behalf in a speech at the Laikipia Wildlife Forum. See FactCheck. However, that speech allegedly couldn't be retrieved by AFP, and the minister did neither speak out against the call for the death penalty when he was immediately confronted on twitter nor clarified his personal view - he never spoke out against the death penalty. Instead he continues until today to entertain wealthy "conservationists" with weired ideas, who are at their hidden core nothing but sport-killers, and for example want to reintroduce profitable trophy-killing of wildlife in Kenya and see that local "poachers are  finish off." Kenya is known for numerous extrajudicial killings as can be seen by the recent case brought against the Attorney General and the former Head of Police, who was transferred into Balala's Ministry of Tourism recently. Question as always: Qui Bono?

Najib Balala, Kenya’s Wildlife Minister, wants the death penalty for convicted poachers.

Najib Balala

That’s a really bad idea
(but he wants at the same time to re-introduce killing of wildlife for rich people's sport)


On 11 May 2018, Xinhua reported that Najib Balala, Kenya’s Minister for Tourism and Wildlife, had announced that Kenya plans to fast-track laws to make wildlife crimes punishable by the death penalty.

Balala made the announcement during the launch of the northern white rhino commemorative stamps at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia County. The stamps are issued in honour of “Sudan” a rhino euthanized at Ol Pejeta on 19 March 2018. (The story of “Sudan” is in itself an extraordinary tale of conservation gone wrong – you can read more about it here and here.)

On 16 May 2018, Balala confirmed in a tweet that, “the government will push for poachers to be handed the severest punishment possible within our judicial system”.

Rhino 'Sudan's' postage stamp

Balala explains his proposal to fast-track changes to Kenya’s laws on poaching as follows,

“We have in place the Wildlife Conservation Act that was enacted in 2013 and which fetches offenders a life sentence or a fine of 200,000 U.S. dollars. However, this has not been deterrence enough to curb poaching, hence the proposed stiffer sentence.”
Is CITES in favour of the death penalty for poachers?

Several people and organisations were quick to criticise Balala’s proposal.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), on the other hand, re-tweeted a link to the Xinhua article, with the hashtag “#SeriousAboutWildlifeCrime”:
 
CITES, the useless organization supports death-penalty for 'poachers' only to distract from own failures and misdeads.
Francis Massé, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Sheffield, writing on The Conversation website, argues that CITES’ tweet, “sends the message that the death penalty is a legitimate way to be serious about wildlife crime”.

Massé writes,
As a global authority on protecting biodiversity CITES’s position matters. It’s ambiguous stance is worrying because how poaching is tackled is a hugely divisive issue with growing calls for countries to move beyond an enforcement focused approach.

Leading conservationists have warned for some time that violent approaches to wildlife trafficking are not “politically feasible” and that killing poachers risks aggravating already poor relations between people living in and around protected areas.

Most importantly, killing those who hunt illegally fails to address socio-economic injustices or the demand for wildlife products.
Conservation Watch has written to the CITES Secretariat to ask whether the tweet (which has now been deleted) was intended as an endorsement of the death penalty. CITES’ response will be posted in full when it arrives.

Vegan victory?

The vegan website One Green Planet declares Balala’s announcement as a “Victory”:
 
Blood-Lust also in some Vegans drives people crazy.
The article notes that,
"While this measure may seem extreme, it is a last resort attempt to deter people from slaughtering Kenya’s rapidly decreasing wildlife population."
The comments following the article are all in favour of the death penalty for poachers. Someone called Jeff Biss writes, “Actually, everyone involved in wildlife trafficking should be executed.” And Pamela Tate adds, “I hope they do get the death penalty, they don’t deserve life.”

Ironically, One Green Planet describes itself as “a platform for the growing compassionate and eco-conscious generation”.

The death penalty is a really bad idea

Jeremiah Ogonda Asaka is a lecturer in Global Studies at Middle Tennessee State University. In an article on The Conversation website, he gives three reasons why the proposal to execute convicted poachers is a bad idea:
  1. “It goes against the global trend away from using the death penalty.”

    The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights advocates for the abolition of the death penalty, arguing that, “The death penalty has no place in the 21st century.”
    Kenya still has the death penalty on its books, but the most recent execution was in 1987. In 2016, president Uhuru Kenyatta commuted the death sentences of 2,747 people to life in prison. And in 2009, then-president Mwai Kibaki did the same for 4,000 death row inmates.

  2. “Poachers are already willing to risk their lives, so it won’t work as a deterrent.”

    Kenya already has a shoot to kill policy for poachers. Asaka notes that it “has been largely ineffective”. Poachers already risk their lives, so the death penalty is unlikely to deter them, he argues.
  3. “Rather than putting in new laws, the government should address what’s wrong with the current laws which offer sufficient penalties.”

    Kenya’s 2013 Wildlife Conservation and Mangement Act has been in force for less than five years. “This isn’t enough time to gauge its effectiveness,” Asaka points out.
Asaka concludes that,
Ultimately, tackling Kenya’s poaching problem requires a multi-layered, comprehensive approach which involves all stakeholders including government, non-governmental organisations, local and global communities and ensures the protection of human rights and dignity. An approach that involves the death penalty as a quick fix for convicted poachers doesn’t fit this bill.

 


PLEASE READ ALSO:
Tanzania’s Maasai evicted in the name of conservation and luxury safari tourism

 

Top 10 most endangered animals in Africa

By Pauline Taji - Updated: April 2019

There was a time when animals like the mammoth and the saber-toothed tiger existed. Fast track to now, we only see them in books. This has not stopped as animals are quickly becoming extinct. Animals we are used to seeing will soon be something of the past. Which are the most endangered animals in Africa? Which animal won’t we be able to see in the next few years?

Animals are becoming extinct due to very many reasons. Some of the most common causes are poaching, loss of habitat and human factors. One of the common human factor is deforestation. Which animal do you think is likely to be in danger of not being there in the next couple of years?

1. Addax
This is the most endangered animal in Africa at the moment. The reason for their dropping numbers is due to hunting and drought. They stay in the desert, and there are about 200-300 of them left at the moment. They eat grass and herbs.
Their decline in numbers is due to a steady decline in their habitat and diseases. They are about 400-550 of them left. This is the only wolf found in Africa.

3. Mountain Gorilla
These gorillas are becoming extinct at a breakneck rate. There are only found in three countries at the moment and just in four national parks. These national parks are Volcanoes National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Virunga National Park.
They are becoming endangered due to destroyed habitat, poaching and human diseases like the flu. There are about 900 of them left. They are true herbivores.

4. Pygmy Hippopotamus
There are about 1500 of them at the moment. Their decline in numbers is due to deforestation and hunting. They usually stay in the river during the day and come out to eat during the night. They eat grass, roots, leaves and fruit.

5. African Wild Dog
They are at risk due to diseases and human interference like hunting them for food. They are slightly over 4000 of them left.

6. Black Rhinoceros
They eat twigs, plants and herbs. They are over 3500 black rhinos left. They are highly endangered due to them being poached for their horns. [The Northern White Rhino is more or less extinct in the wild, while the Southern White Rhino is bread in large game ranches and parks in South Africa and elsewhere].

7. Cheetah
This is the fastest land mammal. They are carnivores that are becoming extinct due to loss of habitat and human interference such as deforestation. There are about 14000 of them left.

8. African Lion
This King is also threatened. You could think the lion being one of the fiercest animals alive would make it better equipped for survival, but that is not the case. They are about 22000 African Lions accounted for. Their main reason for facing extinction is being poisoned, being hunted and losing their habitat.

9. African Penguin
Yes, Africa has penguins. You need to go to see them before they are no more. The biggest threats to this species are commercial fisheries, getting caught up in nets and oil spills. They eat anchovies and sardines.

10. African Elephant
There are a little over 600,000 left. The reason for this decline in numbers is due to them being poached and their loss of habitat. They are the largest terrestrial mammals, and they eat shrubs, fruits, branches, shoots and leaves.

That is a list of the most endangered animals in Africa. We need to do all we can to ensure that these animals do not become extinct.