ANOTHER IVORY HAUL NABBED IN KENYA
(Posted 20th April 2014)
Last Thursday did security services in Nairobi seize 131 tusks and arrested two suspects when their lorry broke down. Notably was one of the two already free on bail in another case related to poaching, strengthening the sentiments of many conservationists who have called for more stringent bail conditions to be set by trial magistrates and judges to prevent poachers getting straight back ‘to work’, something the new wildlife law with stiff penalties and long prison terms wanted to prevent.
The blood ivory was cleverly hidden in a water bowser but an apparent tip off had police swoop in and arrest a Kenyan and a Guinean man just a few kilometres from the KWS headquarters along Langata Road.
This latest find confirms that poaching and trading remain ongoing challenges for KWS which is now for the next 100 days overseen and looked into by a special committee formed by a government which has failed to find the right formula to deal with the menace of poaching and is – perhaps attributed to attempts to merge KWS with the Kenya Forest Authority – in long default to appoint a substantive board of directors for the organisation.
Figures about poached elephants in Kenya given by KWS have in recent weeks been challenged by the conservation community and arguments broke out between conservationists and KWS management which traded public words.
‘In a time of crisis you don’t change horses during a race. This is a time of crisis no doubt and we should all join hands to contribute to fight back. But this government is unnecessarily politicizing the process with that talk of a merger instead of first sorting out current problems. A new organization will not be immediately geared towards going to war with poachers but will first have to find its footing and resolve internal turf wars. Those who do not see that connection are simply blind to reality on the ground and are failing the nation. Like with tourism they are failing in their job and the results, predicted a year and longer ago, are now there for everyone to see’ said the Nairobi based conservation source when passing the details of the latest blood ivory seizure.
More suspects are being sought now it is understood, as the two arrested are not likely to be the only ones involved in this major haul.
Meanwhile was it also reported from Kenya that the office of the public prosecutor has established a new prosecution unit to deal entirely with wildlife crimes, giving hope that cases are no longer bungled as has happened in the past when culprits regularly walked away on technicalities or by paying small fines.