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Kenya set to build educational center for remains of last northern white rhino

By Tatianah Kiptoo, editorial@alleastafrica.com

NAIROBI – Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala has announced that an educational center will be put up where iconic wildlife trophies will be kept.

Trophies of iconic wild life including Sudan, the last male northern white rhino and Ahmed, Kenya’s biggest elephant that died in 1974 will be kept at the center for educational purposes as well as boosting knowledge on conservation.

Tourism CS Najib Balala with ‘Sudan’ at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. (Photo: File/Standard)

Speaking during the memorial ceremony of the last male white northern rhino in Laikipia County, Kenya, he said that Kenya is among the countries that host the biggest number of rhinos totaling 1284 rhinos out of which 800 are black. However he said there was need to increase conservation efforts in a move to preserve heritage.

“These wildlife are our heritage, it is a sad that we have just lost the last of northern white males rhinos in the world, this should be a lesson. An educational center will be put up where the remains of these iconic animals will be kept for future generations and also to boost conservation,” Mr Balala said.

Balala revealed that he has put in measures to address human-wildlife conflicts in a move to boost coexistence with wildlife.

“Feeling benefits is not about eating these animals or killing them or about being compensated by the government,” he added.

Poachers, however, he added, might be facing life imprisonment if the proposal by the Cabinet secretary will be approved and enacted by Parliament.

Balala said wildlife crimes are on the rise and punitive measure should be taken against the poaching especially for the endangered species.

He most wildlife criminals are often slapped with light sentences, which he said has contributed to the increase of poaching the endangered animals like rhinos and elephants.

“We will change the wildlife criminal laws so that anyone who kills an animal or caught with animal trophies will be jailed for life. Tougher penalties will curb such activities that endangers our heritage,” said Balala.

He noted that Kenyan government’s  to burn ivory stock worth Sh200 Million two years ago as well as signing the petition demanding the European Union to close down their ivory markets is a way of showing the world that wildlife is not about money but the principle of conserving the wildlife.

“We need to pay a greater role particularly in saving the endangered species. We are still standing our ground with the rest of the world in petitioning the EU to stop ivory trade as well as drafting stiffer penalties to curb the vices,” said Mr Balala.

The prosecution of wildlife crimes in Kenya according to Space for Giants, an international conservation organization working in four African countries has improved with  conviction currently stands at 93 percent up from 24 percent in 2016.

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