• Wed
  • Aug 20, 2014
  • Updated: 7:20pm

Chinese ivory smuggler gets record sentence in Kenya poaching crackdown

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 January, 2014, 5:26pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 12:29pm

A court in Kenya on Tuesday slapped a record sentence on a Chinese ivory smuggler, the first person to be convicted under tough new laws designed to stem a surge in poaching.

Tang Yong Jian, 40, was ordered to pay 20 million shillings (HK$1.78 million) or else go to jail for seven years. He was arrested last week carrying an ivory tusk weighing 3.4 kilograms in a suitcase while in transit from Mozambique to China via Nairobi.

A spokesman for the Kenya Wildlife Service, which manages the country’s celebrated national parks, welcomed the verdict.

“It’s a landmark ruling that sets a precedent for those involved in smuggling,” Paul Udoto said, saying stricter sentences will make the “killing of wildlife a high cost business”.

“It’s a remarkable precedent,” he said, explaining that the fact that smugglers were previously punished with “a slap on the wrist” was demoralising for park rangers.

“It’s very motivating for our rangers” to see poachers “lose a lot of money and spend long terms in Kenyan prisons,” he said.

Kenya is a key transit point for ivory smuggled from across the region.

Poaching has risen sharply in Africa in recent years, with rhinos and elephants particularly hard-hit.

Under the new law, which came into force a month ago, dealing in wildlife trophies carries a minimum fine of a million shillings or a minimum jail sentence of five years, or both.

The most serious wildlife crimes - the killing of endangered animals - now carry penalties of life imprisonment, as well as fines of up to 20 million Kenyan shillings.

Previously, punishment for the most serious wildlife crimes was capped at a maximum fine of 40,000 Kenyan shillings, and a possible jail term of up to 10 years.

Some smugglers caught in Kenya with a haul of ivory were even fined less than a dollar apiece.

Watch: Poaching in East Africa: urgent action needed to save elephants


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This article is now closed to comments

what BS... what's the difference between this and taking bribes to get let off serving time in jail?!.. just because the legal authorities are doing it?!
I suppose this is a positive step but just feel like smugglers will just add another column into their accounting books called "Fines" - if he is able to pay then we all know where this money came from - which is incentive for his operation to smuggle more. I would love to see a follow up report on where this fine money goes. It should be funneled back to Africa's wildlife and people to create a sustainable future. More emphasis and media coverage/follow up on these reports. Otherwise, these fines and jail time only represent the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.
Why give him the choice between fine and prison?
He knew he was breaking the law.
Next one, throw in jail 7 years. They deserve it.
Small fry, how about the big organised guys ? Are they doing to do something about them or have these guys paid for protection ?


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