As a way to cut back on the high levels of poaching in their country, Kenya will now impose the death penalty on anyone caught poaching endangered species.
While some see this as a boon to wildlife all across the African nation, others, including the United Nations, fiercely stand against capital punishment regardless of the crime.
While many countries have established sanctuaries where elephants and rhinos are supposed to be able to live and breed in peace, these areas often encompass many acres and are impossible to patrol all the time.
Poaching in Kenya has been declining since they began investing heavily in environmental conservation efforts.
In 2013 Kenyan legislators enacted the Wildlife Conservation Act, which calls for a minimum sentence of life imprisonment or a $200,000 fine for anyone caught poaching.
Yet many believed that this was not enough.
“A ranger in the field should not have to experience the frustration of confronting a wildlife criminal they arrested a week earlier walking free again because of an acquittal,” stated Max Graham of Space for Giants, an international conservation organization focused on securing a future for Earth’s large mammals.
Just in 2017, poachers killed 69 elephants, more than were born that year.
They also managed to kill 9 rhinos, leaving less than 1,000 black rhinos remaining in Africa.
In fact, 1 in 4 elephants alive in 2007 has since been killed, severely reducing the population of this endangered species.
Criminals will kill endangered animals for their scales, tusks, horns and skins.
Often, they will severely injure an animal and leave it to suffer an agonizing death after taking the body part they want.
These body parts are later sold on the black market, supplying international demand for decorative ivory or ingredients in “traditional medicine”.
Kenya’s decision to impose the death penalty on poachers has drawn the ire of the United Nations and other human rights organizations.
They strongly opposed capital punishment and are pushing to eradicate it across the globe.