Kenya jails Briton for 5 years for snake smuggling

24th September 2013, Comments 0 comments

A Briton and his Kenyan accomplice were jailed for five years for attempting to smuggle rare snakes from Kenya, court documents showed Tuesday.

Briton Simon David Harris, 43, and Richard Wangwe, 28, were on Monday found with six live horned vipers at a hotel in the Kenyan town of Naivasha.

They pleaded guilty and judge Seline Muchingi sent them to Naivasha jail, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of the capital Nairobi.

"The frequency at which such incidents are taking place calls for stiffer penalties," she was quoted as saying.

Anti-wildlife trafficking groups regularly accuse Kenyan courts of being lenient towards offenders, notably on those caught smuggling large quantities of ivory who, until very recently, often escaped with relatively paltry fines of a few hundred dollars.

The horned viper -- also known as the Bitis worthingtoni -- is a venomous species endemic to Kenya's Rift Valley.

A spokesman for the Kenya Wildlife Service, Paul Udoto, said Harris lives in Germany but works in South Africa where he manages a zoo in Kwazulu-Natal province.

"They were planning to export the snakes to Germany and South Africa," Udoto said.

© 2013 AFP

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