By Robert Kiplagat, Standard Media
A 47-year-old man has been ordered to pay a fine of Sh1 million or serve six years imprisonment after he was found guilty of illegal possession of 84 kilograms of elephant tusks worth Sh8 million.
Appearing before Narok Chief Magistrate Wilbroda Juma the accused, Daniel Karanja, who was found in possession of nine pieces of elephant tusks weighing 84 Kilograms in the year 2014 was found guilty of the offense.
Mr Karanja was arrested at his house in Majengo slums in the outskirts of Narok town on July 30, 2014 by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officers who had received a tip-off from the members of the public.
The prosecution lined up a total of eight witnesses who managed to testify and managed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offense. “I am aware that your case has taken a long time to be heard, however I do not give you credit for offence because there is a time you had absconded the court,” said the Magistrate.
The Magistrate also observed cases of illegal possessions of wildlife trophies are common in the area because the county is a wildlife county hence the law should protect the animals.
“From the evidence given in court, the trophies must have come from five elephants. This is a huge loss given that they are animals in the big five category,” reiterated the magistrate.
The magistrate continued that such a case if not well punished would send a bad signal to the society and people with such ill intentions of destroying the wildlife.
In his mitigation, the accused said that he regrets the offence he had committed asking the court to pardon him as he had a young family. “My family depend on me including my mother who is diabetic and my sister who is physically handicapped and has children to raise,” the culprit told the court.
While sending him to prison, the magistrate said he had considered the mitigation raised but she affirmed that the court had moral duty of protecting wildlife.