Kenya: Policeman among two arrested with elephant tusks in Nairobi

Jan 17, 2024 | News

By Cyrus Ombati, The Star

A police officer and a civilian were arrested while trying to sell 645 kilos of elephant tusks in the Eastleigh area, Nairobi.

The tusks would fetch about Sh60 million in the black market.

The police constable and a civilian had been arrested in Nairobi West and Eastleigh with the cargo on Sunday.

They had tried to sell the trophies to Kenya Wildlife Service officials who had posed as potential buyers.

Police said they have joined the probe to establish the source of the trophies.

This is the latest such incident amid a campaign to address the menace of poaching.

Two women were last week arrested with five pieces of elephant tusks that weighed 111 kilos and were valued at Sh11 million in a village in Kwale county.

They were nabbed with the trophies on January 6, 2024, at around 9 am in the Majoreni area of Lungalunga subcounty within Kwale.

This happened as they sought a market for the trophies and approached undercover officials.

They were charged before a Msambweni court for dealing in a wildlife trophy of an endangered species.

Tima Omar Suya and Bahatisha Juma Said were jointly charged with dealing in wildlife trophies of an endangered species without a permit or other lawful exemptions, contrary to Section 92(2) as read with Section 105(1) of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013.

It is alleged that the two women concealed the wildlife trophies in sacks and ferried them on board a motor vehicle without a permit.

Suya and Said were also charged with having wildlife trophies of an endangered species without a permit or other lawful exemption, contrary to Section 92(4) as read with Section 105(1) of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013.

Elephant tusks fetch a fortune in the black market as a surge in demand for ivory in the East continues to fuel the illicit trade in elephant tusks, especially from Africa.

Officials say despite a ban on the international ivory trade, African elephants are still being poached in large numbers.

As part of efforts to stop the menace, Kenya has started using high-tech surveillance equipment, including drones, to track poachers and keep tabs on elephants and rhinos.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and stakeholders have put in place mechanisms to eradicate all forms of wildlife crime, particularly poaching.

These mechanisms include enhanced community education, interagency collaboration, and intensive intelligence-led operations, among others.

These efforts led to zero rhino poaching in Kenya in 2020-the first time in about two decades. At least 20,000 elephants are killed annually in Africa for their ivory.

This translates to 55 elephants killed daily or one elephant killed every 26 minutes with a population of 35,000 elephants.

On April 30, 2016, Kenya set ablaze 105 tonnes of elephant ivory and 1.35 tonnes of rhino horn.

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta led world leaders and conservationists in burning the remains of 6,500 elephants and 450 rhinos killed for their tusks and horns.

Parliament has also passed strict anti-poaching laws and the government has beefed up security at parks to stop poaching, which threatens the vital tourism industry.

Regionally, Kenya has also emerged as a major transit route for ivory destined for Asian markets from eastern and central Africa.

The illegal ivory trade is mostly fuelled by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks and rhino horns are used to make ornaments and traditional medicines.

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