A memorial service for the world's last male white rhinoceros has spurred officials in Kenya, Africa to call for stricter punishments for poaching, namely life in prison for anyone found in possession of ivory.
"Ivory belongs to elephants and rhinos," said Tourism Minister Najib Balala during Saturday's service at Ol Pejeta Conservancy for Sudan, the 45-year-old rhino who died 11 days ago.
The beloved rhino was put down by his caretakers and is survived by two female white rhinos of his species: his 27-year-old daughter Najin and 17-year-old granddaughter Fatu.
The only hope for preserving the species is through in vitro fertilization using eggs and stored semen, according to Ol Pejeta. In 2016, there were only 29,000 rhinos left on Earth, 70 percent of which roam the wilds of Africa.
With extinction now immiment for the white rhino, the Kenyan government is taking affirmative action.
Kenya introduced tough wildlife-protection laws in 2013 in an attempt to stop highly lucrative ivory smuggling, mainly to Asia, which has led to the slaughter of thousands of the endangered animals.
Those found guilty of ivory trafficking already face a life sentence, but the minimum sentence for possession is just five years.
"It's a war. That's our frustration. The rhino war; it's like drugs," said Xolani Nicholus Funda, Kruger National Park’s chief ranger in 2016.
After a court sentenced a Kenyan man to 20 years in jail for possessing ivory, the top prosecutor sought for the punishment to be changed to a life sentence. The appeal is still in the courts.