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Wildlife poachers in Kenya will face the death penalty, the country's tourism and wildlife minister Najib Balala has reportedly announced.
According to China's Xinhua news agency, Balala has warned that the rule would be fast-tracked into the law.
Balala reportedly explained that existing deterrents for poachers in east Africa are proving insufficient, meaning that capital punishment would be introduced in a bid to conserve Kenya's dwindling wildlife populations.
"We have in place the Wildlife Conservation Act that was enacted in 2013 and which fetches offenders a life sentence or a fine of US $200,000," Balala reportedly said.
"However, this has not been deterrence enough to curb poaching, hence the proposed stiffer sentence."
Kenya's tourism chiefs have said that poaching is actually on a downward trend, adding that this is mostly due to increased wildlife law enforcement efforts, as well as more investment in conservation.
"These efforts led to an 85 percent reduction in rhino poaching and a 78 percent reduction in elephant poaching, respectively, in 2017 compared to when poaching was at its peak in 2013 and 2012 respectively," the ministry said.
But despite this, the Independent reports that two black rhinos and a calf were poached earlier this month at Meru National Park - and that last year in Kenya 69 elephants and nine rhinos were also killed.
The Save the Rhino organisation has also noted that the losses are very high, and that they are essentially cancelling out the overall growth rate of the population.
And, of course, in March this year the world's last male northern rhino - Sudan - was put down, with Richard Vigne, head of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya that was home to Sudan, saying that the rhino would be remembered forever as a signal to the world.
If Balala's plan goes ahead, however, it could potentially put Kenya in conflict with the UN - which opposes the death penalty for all crimes worldwide, with the UN General Assembly calling for a phasing out of capital punishment.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also advocates the universal abolition of capital punishment.
While the reports have not yet been confirmed, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species has reposted the Xinhua report, adding: "Kenya to fast-track laws to make #wildlife killing capital offense; once enacted, #WildlifeCrime offenders will face death penalty."
This tweet has also been retweeted by Kenya's Ministry of Tourism.
LADbible has contacted the Kenya Wildlife Service to confirm Balala's plans, and is awaiting a response.
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