If the efforts that prosecutors from the East African region are vowing to put together are anything to go by, the days of poachers tracking and killing the bloc’s wild animals are numbered.
While speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a workshop yesterday in Kigali where prosecutors from across the East African Community are convening to discuss how best to curb wildlife crime, Rwanda’s Prosecutor General, Jean Bosco Mutangana, said that though each member country had its own laws, the prosecutors were meeting to find ways to be on the same page.
“We are collectively reviewing the legal framework of the region to detect the loopholes and figure out how we can fix them. We are meeting to align where we stand because we all don’t have the same challenges. Cooperation on criminal matters where no one will commit a crime in any of these countries and get away with it is also important,” he said.
Kenya, one of Africa’s tourism giants, has suffered the brunt of poachers losing nine rhinos and 60 elephants to poachers in 2017 alone.
South Sudan’s wildlife officials say that over 20 elephants are estimated to have been killed in the East African nation this year alone.
Tanzania had 110,000 elephants in 2009, but by 2014 that number was down to 43,000, due to rampant poaching.
Around 20,000 African elephants are killed by poachers each year, roughly 55 a day.
While other countries are struggling under the weight of poaching, Rwanda is working on how it can cease being a transit country for poachers within the region, officials say.
According to Police, 10 people were caught with 80 kilogrammes of partially processed ivory. In another incident, a total of 168 kilogrammes of elephant tusks involving 14 culprits, seven of them foreigners and seven Rwandans, were seized by police.
Rwanda’s Penal Code stipulates that anyone who poaches, sells, injures or kills a gorilla or any other protected endangered animal species is liable to a term of imprisonment of more than five to 10 years and a fine of Rwf500, 000 to Rwf5,000,000.