Man arrested with 3 pieces of elephant tusks in Kitui
by Cyrus Ombati, Chief Crime Reporter, The Star
Police are holding a 60-year-old man after he was found in possession of three pieces of elephant tusks.
The suspect was arrested on March 3, at Kwa Mbaaka Kasala by police and Kenya Wildlife Service officials who had acted on a tip-off.
Police said the tusks were valued at Sh300,000.
The man was expected in court to face charges of possession of the tusks as a probe on the same goes on.
Officials said they have intensified operations to discourage poaching and trafficking of such tusks.
There has been an increase in the recovery of the tusks.
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 crime, Kenya has started using high-tech surveillance equipment including drones to track poaching gangs and keep tabs on elephants and rhinos.
KWS working with stakeholders has 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 the year 2020, a first in about two decades.
At least 20,000 elephants are killed annually in Africa for their ivory.
This translates into 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 to smoldering ash.
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 fueled by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns are used to make ornaments and traditional medicines.