A former Kenya Wildlife Services employee-turned poacher who killed a rhino and harvested the horns has been handed a 12-year jail term by a Nanyuki court .
Mohammed Hussein Warsame was convicted on Thursday by Principal Magistrate (PM), Njeri Thuku after he was found guilty of killing a rhinoceros and taking away its two horns besides killing a buffalo at Ol Pejeta conservancy in Laikipia County.
Warsame had denied committing the offences on the night of June 29 and 30, 2011 whereby he was accused of jointly with others not before the court, killing a rhino and taking the animal’s two horns valued at sh5 million.
He had also pleaded not guilty to two other separate charges of hunting and killing game animals namely a rhino and a buffalo within the same conservancy.
During the lengthy trial that lasted over two years, the prosecution linked the accused, who was dismissed from KWS in July of 2009 after deserting his work station at Tsavo East National Park, to the crime paving way for his conviction.
Ibrahim Mugambi, an employee of Ol Pejeta told the court that while on regular patrol on the vast conservancy with a colleague, he heard gunshots at 3am but did not manage to trace the exact location until 5am in the morning when they reached at the scene and found a dead buffalo and a rhino. Both animal had gunshot wounds and the rhino had its two horns severed off.
The witness narrated to the court how they also found an axe at the scene and several spent rifle cartridges, miraa (khat) twigs, a plastic soda bottle, ground nut wrappers and supermarket cash voucher next to the dead animals that lay two metres apart.
Another witness, Kiragu Njiri who worked as a manager at a supermarket told the court that they were able to ascertain that the cash voucher found at the scene of crime was indeed issued to a customer who had purchased a soda, groundnuts, chocolate and bottled water at their Meru branch.
Detectives later used the retail store cash voucher to trace the person it had been issued to in a bid to nab the culprit and their efforts yielded fruits when they were able to identify him and trace him to his hideout in Eastleigh estate in Nairobi.
The Investigation officer, Eugralius Inapo told the court how he was led by an informer to the house the accused was hiding in at Eastleigh Sixth Street and arrested him.
While reading her judgment, the magistrate said that the court was alive to the fact that poaching was a serious crime that is taking a global trend and was threatening Kenya’s wildlife that was a big tourist attraction and therefore the crime warranted a stiff penalty.
She handed him two years in jail for the first count, seven years for the second count and three years for the third and ordered that the sentences to run consecutively.
Warsame remained mum throughout the sentencing and when asked to make mitigation, he shook his head, saying that he had nothing to say.
By Martin Munyi