Cop, civilian arrested selling Sh900,000 elephant tusk in Webuye
by Cyrus Ombati, Chief Crime Report, The Star
February 14th, 2023: A police officer and a civilian were Monday, February 13 arrested as they tried to sell an elephant tusk in Webuye town, Bungoma.
The two were arrested as they sold the nine kilos of the tusk valued at Sh900,000.
The buyer later emerged to be a Kenya Wildlife Service official who had been tipped off about the plans.
The two were booked at a local police station ahead of the planned arraignment.
Police said a car they were using in their botched mission was detained as an exhibit.
This comes in the wake of a new sustained operation targeting poachers.
Three suspects were Sunday arrested and 58 kilogrammes of elephant tusks valued at Sh5.8 million recovered from them in Naivasha Town.
The recovery and arrests were made by joint teams from the police and KWS.
The suspects were driving in a salon car on February 12 afternoon along Dunyu Njeru-Naivasha Road when they were intercepted.
Police said they recovered 12 pieces of elephant tusks from the car.
Police spokesperson Dr Resila Onyango said they will sustain the operation to ensure elephants are safe.
She warned against trade in the tusks and other animal products terming it illegal.
On January 28, a police officer was arrested for trafficking elephant tusks worth Sh2.1 million in Meru.
The officer was arrested in Meru town while carrying 21 kilos of the tusks he allegedly intended to sell.
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.
Officials say 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 horns are used to make ornaments and traditional medicines.