Source: XINHUA | 2012-10-24 | ONLINE EDITION
NAIROBI, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan authorities have arrested two suspected poachers and recovered firearms following intensive anti-poaching activities in the East African nation.
A statement from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said on Tuesday that two were arrested in Galana Ranch in Tsavo/Tana River District border over the weekend.
"Kenya Wildlife Service rangers had trailed the suspects for 42 km following a tip-off from the public," KWS Corporate Affairs Manager Paul Udoto said in a statement.
Udoto said the poachers were suspected to have been involved in a spate of elephant killings in the area in the last couple of weeks.
"During the arrests, a G3 rifle, eight magazines and 476 rounds of ammunition were recovered," he said.
Meanwhile, four rifles were recovered in other conservation areas across the country. One rifle was recovered in Ngare Narok in southeast Kenya and another at Kamwanga on the Kenya-Tanzania border.
Two AK47 rifles seized at Kariand and Mackinon shopping centers near Voi. During the same week, 23 other suspects were arrested and charged in law courts across the country for various wildlife- related crimes.
The arrests came after the Cabinet approved Wildlife Policy and Wildlife Bill 2012 which will provide a comprehensive institutional framework for managing wildlife, human-wildlife conflict, and compensation and ensures that wildlife is beneficial to those who live with the wildlife.
Kenya wildlife enthusiasts have been banking on the passage of the new Wildlife Bill 2011 to reduce the rising cases of poaching in the East African nation. The law proposes severe punishment for poachers and people-led wildlife conservancy efforts.
The proposed Wildlife Bill has also recommended severe crime for poachers since poaching will be like an organized crime under the law.
For example, under the proposed law, offenses relating to sport hunting will attract fine not less than 23,500 U.S. dollars or imprisonment not less than seven years while other crimes carry a fine of at least 5,800 dollars and imprisonment of not less than two years.
The fines are severe than the existing average of 200 dollars charged for various wildlife crimes.
Conservationists have argued that lenient wildlife crime laws are attracting poachers to traffic animal trophies through Kenyan because they know that even if they are arrested, the punishment is not severe.
The KWS has expressed fears that the scenes of 1970s and 1980s when poaching was a serious menace, and contributed to the depletion of wildlife including elephants, lions and rhinos are back, are threatening many years of conservation efforts and animal population that had started to balloon.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is currently involved in efforts to improve the capacities of African countries to fight poaching as well as enabling countries where illegal animal trophies are destined to improve their capacity to detect the trophies through their points of entry.