Balala proposes life sentences for traders of wildlife trophies

Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala (centre) says his ministry is pushing for a law to ensure traders of game trophies are jailed for life. He spoke at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Laikipia County, on March 31, 2018 during a memorial ceremony for Sudan, the last male northern white rhino. PHOTO | MWANGI NDIRANGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • CS Najib Balala says he will push for a law to hand life sentences to traders of wildlife trophies.
  • This will protect endangered species, he said.

Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala is pushing for a law to ensure those convicted of dealing with game trophies are imprisoned for life.

Speaking during the memorial service for Sudan, the last male northern white rhino, at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia County on Saturday, Mr Balala said punitive sentences were necessary in protecting endangered wildlife species.


“Wildlife is about heritage. It is not about government but about people. I will be proposing a law to be passed in the National Assembly to have those trading in game trophies get life imprisonment,” said the CS.  

Mr Balala said Sudan represents the face of endangered wildlife species and his remains would be preserved in a museum to help educate the public on conservation efforts.

Soon after its death on March 19 from age-related complications, Sudan, aged 45, was dissected and its reproductive organs and flesh removed to preserve the skeleton.

The minister unveiled a headstone inscribed with the name Sudan, but unlike others that died before him, its remains were not buried at the ‘rhino cemetery’ at Ol Pejeta, which currently has 19 rhino graves mostly of those killed by poachers.

Sudan, another male named Suni and two other females were brought to Ol Pejeta in 2009 from a zoo in the Czech Republic after being rescued from Sudan.

The initiative was aimed at making them breed in the wild but that did not happen.

Suni died in 2014 and its remains were buried at the rhino cemetery. The two females at Ol Pejeta are the only remaining of the northern white rhino subspecies.

There are 1,284 rhinos remaining in Kenya with 800 being black rhinos and the others white rhinos. The population of rhinos worldwide stands at 28,000.