The above map details general areas of arrests/seizures made of the flora/fauna depicted (sandalwood in green). The orange elephants are seizures made through the joint efforts of the anti poaching teams of the Mara Elephant Project (MEP) and KWS. The red elephants are seizures made through the joint efforts of Big Life Foundation (Kenya) and KWS. The deep red elephants are seizures that have been documented by either court documents or Kenya media outlets. As a caution, the incident locations circled in orange (MEP) and circled in red (Big Life) are applicable to their area of operations, Greater Mara Ecosystem and Greater Tsavo Conservation Area respectively, and are very general.
DISCLAIMER: The ivory arrest numbers and map information involving the Big Life Foundation Kenya and the Mara Elephant Project has been compiled specifically from their websites.
The ivory seizure total of 890 kg is comparable to the 2020 figure of 980.5 kg of ivory seized; those figures also including seizure/arrests from the MEP and Big Life Kenya. Ivory poaching numbers were taken by SEEJ-AFRICA for 2018 and 2019 (below) but did not include seizures from MEP or Big Life Kenya.
2021: SEEJ – 890 kg (equivalent to 89 elephants) KWS – Not yet published
While it has not been acknowledged officially by KWS, a number of different sources within Kenya and globally, report that poaching of rhinos has taken place in 2021. The information obtained from various confidential sources has not been specific to numbers, date and locations but it appears that the number of rhinos poached for their horn is at a minimum of three and possibly as many as six. The effected parks are Solio Ranch, Nakuru National Park and Ruma National Park in western Kenya. In perspective with the rhino poaching in South Africa or Botswana, it is a drop in the bucket, but still a concern.
The official numbers of rhino poached within Kenya in the last four years are as follows:
SANDALWOOD AND BUSHMEAT
SEEJ-AFRICA has only recently adjusted focus to include the sandalwood and bushmeat trade within Kenya, both which are generally known to have increased substantially during 2021.
Big Life Kenya reports being involved in sandalwood seizures involving KWS to a tune of almost 9000 kg over the 2021 calendar year. That is believed to have included a massive 5.5 tonne sandalwood seizure made in the Emali area on April 8th, 2021. Six suspects were arrested.
The bushmeat trade in 2021 has also mushroomed exponentially as also reported by an ODPP prosecutor at a recent Mombasa seminar on “Reducing Maritime Trafficking of Wildlife Between Africa and Asia”.
Big Life Kenya made bushmeat seizures in excess of 1800 kg throughout the year. On July 18th, 2021, KWS officers arrested 3 men and seized 1500 kg of zebra meat in the Burma market of Nairobi.
On July 5th, 2021, the law court in the town of Voi, sentenced three men to 16 years jail for poaching 186 dik diks three weeks previous.
HOW IS IVORY LEAVING THE COUNTRY?
From 2018 and 2021 inclusive, Kenyan law enforcement authorities have seized 3,504 kg of ivory. The actual amount of ivory moving through Kenya to be trafficked to South east Asia could, however, be as high as 35,000 kg. While it sounds obscenely high, from a theoretical perspective, it is more than plausible.
Regardless of the total, the ivory that has not been seized is leaving the country from somewhere. The typical trafficking operation has small amounts of ivory being transported to collection points for consolidation. The Mombasa and Nairobi area have in the past been the location of these collection points.
Mombasa Port has not registered a seizure since December 2016 although the 1097 kg of ivory that was seized had to be returned to Mombasa after it had cleared the port, based on information and/or assistance from outside external agencies. The last seizure in Mombasa Port based on regular search protocols was in October 2013 when two containers from Uganda were seized within days of each other and found to contain almost 5 tonnes of ivory.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) has in the past been the other port of egress used by traffickers. The last seizure of significance that involved JKIA was in June 2017 when 217 kg of ivory was seized from a home located within close proximity to the airport. Five of the seven accused all had working connections with JKIA. From all appearances, there has been no subsequent spin off investigation into the use of the airport as a wildlife trafficking hub.
With no substantive amount of Kenyan ivory having been seized outside the country for over five years, the question is perplexing. Have authorities stalled the Kenyan involved ivory cartels or have the logistic wheels of these same cartels been greased so well with corruption, that no seizure is even possible?
Unfortunately, answer ‘B’ is the more realistic.