A court sentenced two men to 10 years in prison or a fine payment of a fine of Ksh20 million each for being in possession of python skins and crocodile skin on January 31.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) made the announcement, sparking widespread criticism from a section of Kenyans who believe that the sentence was unfair and unreasonable.
According to the ODPP, Principal Magistrate Paul Wechuli found that the accused were guilty of the offence indicating that they were in possession of seven python skins and two crocodile skins.
However, Kenyans online called on the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the ODPP to reconsider the judgement explaining that wildlife laws are driven by colonialism and that human life is more valuable.
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Uproar and Reactions from Kenyans Over 10 Yr Jail Term
Activist Boniface Mwangi argued that Kenya had communities that use animal skins to practice their rituals and cultures and therefore the 10-year sentence was not reasonable.
“We have communities that use animal skins to practice rituals and cultures. Sending two poor meant to jail for 10 years for possession of crocodile and python skins is too punitive. KWS allows farming of snakes and crocodiles, ask them to pay for a license,” stated Boniface.
Additionally, he was backed by Mwaniki Wahome who noted that communities killed snakes that they found every day and some even ate them.
Also, a user named Saint Hacker noted that the move by the court implied that the life of the animals was more valuable than human life.
“If killing seven pythons and 2 crocodiles gets you a Ksh20 million penalty, how much would a child killed by a wild animal be paid? he questioned.
ODPP Report on Sentence Over Possession of Python Skins
On the other hand, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution in a statement on Thursday, February 1, noted that the two, Oscar Kambona Musyimi and Anthony Mutie were charged with the offence of being in possession of wildlife trophy contrary to section 92 of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act No. 47 of 2013.
Further, the statement detailed that they were caught with the trophies on November 27, 2019, at Ndalani-Sofia Market in Machakos County.
“While delivering the judgment, Principal Magistrate Hon. Paul Wechuli observed that all 6 prosecution witnesses who testified adduced consistent and collaborative testimonies which the accused persons failed to shake during cross-examination,” noted ODPP