- On January 9, 2023, and based on intelligence from Big Life Foundation Kenya, KWS investigators and police arrested five men ferrying 32.9 kg of ivory on motorcycles.
- The arrest took place in Ntulele, Narok county, a two hour drive from Nairobi and Masaai Mara National Reserve.
- The ivory was hidden in a bag of charcoal and two motorcycles were also seized in the operation.
Officials suspect poachers killed three elephants to get tusks
by Cyrus Ombati, Chief Crime Report, The Star
January 28th, 2023:
On January 9, five men were arrested in Ntulele, Narok county, while ferrying 32.9 kilos of elephant tusks worth about Sh3 million.
The five had concealed six pieces of the tusks in a sack of charcoal.
They were using two motorcycles to transport the tusks when they were stopped by Kenya Wildlife Service personnel and police.
Police said the men were under interrogation after an initial appearance in court to reveal the source of the tusks.
But it seems they had killed at least three elephants to get the tusks, which they said were to be delivered in Nairobi.
Police said they expected more arrests in the probe.
“The trade in tusks is illegal and everyone should know this. We will investigate further to get all players involved,” police spokesperson Dr Resla Onyango said.
Despite a ban on the international trade in ivory, 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.
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 horn.
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 horn are used to make ornaments and traditional medicines.
NOTE: This report has been abbreviated from the original article which contained stories on two separate ivory trafficking incidents. The second incident occurred on January 28th and can be read at the link below.