Poachers face tough new laws in Kenya
An investigation is under way after poachers killed a female rhinocerous and hacked off its horn in a brazen attack in Nairobi national park.
The killing was in breach of Kenya's tough new laws to combat increasing rhino and elephant poaching in the region.
The previous maximum punishment was a fine of KSh 40,000 ($465) and up to ten years in jail. However under the new legislation poachers face fines of up to KSh 20 million (€230,000) and the possibility of being jailed for life.
The heavily-protected Nairobi park just south of the city is an important rhino sanctuary and is regarded as an ideal breeding ground to restock other parks with the endangered animals.
In August poachers killed a rhino and escaped with the horn, while in mid-January this year four suspected poachers were shot dead by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) in two separate incidents in Nyeri and Meru national parks.
Last September a Chinese man was arrested in possession of 3.4 kg of elephant ivory at Jomo Kenyatta international airport while on transit from Maputo to Hong Kong, via Nairobi. He will be the first to face charges under Kenya's strict new laws.
The lucrative illegal trade is being fuelled by demand from certain Asian countries where rhino horn is believed to have medicinal qualities.
In 2013 it is thought that between 40 and 60 rhinos were poached in Kenya but none of the horns were recovered. To counteract this, Kenyan wildlife officials have recently begun inserting microchips into rhino horns, under plans to microchip the country's remaining 1,000 animals.