Man ordered to pay KES 60M for illegal possession of game trophies
12 November 2015, 12:24
Narok - A 56-year-old man has been ordered to pay KES 60 million fine or serve life imprisonment by a Narok Court after he was found guilty of three counts of being in possession, keeping and dealing in game trophies without a valid license from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
Simon Kiprotich Towett had been arraigned before Narok Senior Resident Magistrate, Allan Temba Sitati charged that on August 30, this year at Munyas area on Lemek–Narok road in Narok County, he was found in illegal possession of two pieces of ivory weighing eight kilogrammes and worth KES 800 000.
The accused person was also charged with two other counts of dealing in wildlife trophies without a license from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and keeping wildlife trophies in his house without a license.
He was ordered to pay KES 20 million fines for each of the offenses, totaling to KES 60 million.
He will serve life imprisonment on each of the offenses if he does not pay the fines. The sentences run concurrently meaning he has to pay a total of KES 60 million fines.
The strict sentences were imposed by the new Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013 which has imposed stiffer penalties for wildlife related offenses in order to save our wildlife.
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The court was told the KWS rangers from Narok acting on a tip-off from an informer who posed as a buyer arrested him and recovered the said game trophies in a gunny bag.
In his judgment, Sitati said the prosecution had proved their case against the accused persons. He noted that the fact that the accused person led the KWS officers to the scene where they recovered the bag containing the game trophies shows they were accomplices in the crime.
The court had been told the accused jointly with another suspect who escaped, led the KWS officers to a bush where the accused person had hidden the illegal cargo as the sleuths pretended to be buyers of the trophies.
In mitigation, the accused person pleaded for leniency saying he was the sole breadwinner for his families.
The magistrate said he noted the mitigation but our wildlife needed to be protected and the new Wildlife Act was very clear to kind of sentence to be meted out on this kind of offense.
He however reminded them of their right of appeal in 14 days.
This comes as Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Wildlife conservationists have raised a red flag over the rampant poaching of wildlife in the County for meat, ivory and other trophies.
To date, there are numerous similar cases pending before Narok Courts, an indicator that the crime is rampant in the area.
The upsurge of poaching can be blamed on the increased demand for ivory and other wildlife products in Asia and some countries in Southern Africa. The elephant tusks and the rhino horns are said to be on high demand in some Asian countries where they are said to be used to make various ornaments and are also said to also be of medicinal value.
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