Illegal wildlife trade in Kenya


According to brilliant,  Kenya is a world-renowned wildlife destination. Lions, Elephants, Rhinos, Buffalos, Flamingos, Giraffes, Hippos, Zebras, and many more wildlife have their best sites in Kenya. The country is inhabited by more than 1,135 bird species, including the world’s largest bird, the ostrich, and one of the smallest, the sunbird. Wildlife has therefore become key to Kenya’s tourism sector, accounting to over 12% of its National Gross Domestic Product. On a sad note however, Kenya has over the last three decades, lost more than half if it’s wildlife resources due to wildlife trafficking.


Wildlife trafficking involves illegal trade, poaching, and smuggling, it involves the capture or collection of endangered species and protected wildlife.

Kenya suffers greatly from illegal wildlife trade, which has prompted the nation to recently launch it’s financial flows toolkit to help track, share information and seize money involved in illegal wildlife trade. According to Najib Balala, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for tourism: “The new tool will support financial institutions including our Central bank and other commercial banks, and Safaricom in tackling illicit money flows associated with illegal wildlife…we are committed to combating illegal wildlife trade and particularly saving endangered species….

A number of Laws exist to combat IWT in Kenya, they include;

  • The Wildlife Conservation and Management (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
  • The National Wildlife Conservation Status Report 2015-2017.
  • Wildlife Conservation and Management Act NO. 47 OF 2013 of Kenya.
  • Part XI- Offences and penalties, Wildlife Conservation and Management Act No. 47 of 2013 of Kenya.
  • The National Wildlife Conservation and Management Policy, April 2017.
  • Constitution of Kenya, 2010.
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)


According to Swaleh Faraj, a senior official at the Kenya Revenue Authority: “The cartels, the smugglers, the criminal networks, will want to sneak in an illicit or illegal shipment, hoping that because there’s so many containers, we may ooverlook and say ‘we can only inspect so much’ … we have put a lot of infrastructure to address that, to make it less attractive. This would not be a success without the support of INTERPOL and the global network they have to share and exchange information.”. These efforts have proven successful as the number of elephants in Kenya have only doubled over the last 30 years. Also, conviction rates for wildlife crime in Kenya continue to climb, putting notorious poachers in jail.

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