Police officer, civilian charged with illegal possession of elephant tusks worth Sh2.9 million

Counties Crime Editor's Pick Nakuru Wildlife

Two suspects including a police officer on Wednesday charged before a Naivasha court with being in illegal possession and trafficking of elephant tusks worth sh. 2.9 million.

The two, Dismus Omari Mongari, a police officer attached at Suswa station and Dennis Okinda Atuke were arrested by officers from Kenya Wildlife Service acting on intelligence at Governors area in Mai Mahiu in possession of 20 pieces of ivory weighing 29 kg which was being transported from Suswa to Nairobi.

According to Naivasha KWS Senior Warden Francis Mutuku, the two were intercepted by an anti-poaching police unit while awaiting to board a Matatu to Nairobi with the tusks starched in polythene carrier bags.

The accused, who appeared before Naivasha Principal Magistrate Abdulqudir Ramadan were charged with possessing and trafficking elephant tusks, classified as an endangered species needing special protection, without a permit from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).                     The two pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and were released on a bond of sh. One million each pending the next hearing date scheduled for July 16, this year.

If found guilty, the two risk heaving penalties and lengthy jail terms thanks to the overhauled Kenya Wildlife Conservation Act of 2013 which stimulates a maximum fine of Sh. 20 million or life imprisonment for perpetrators.

The Act classifies the African Elephant as an endangered species due to poaching which threatened its existence with Kenya having led the ban on game hunting to contain the vice.

Mutuku had earlier in a press release decried increased cases of poaching activities in the area with Naivasha – Nakuru and Narok Mai Mahiu highways being the major trafficking routes.

According to data from (KWS), although the country has strengthened its anti-poaching laws to curb the menace, some unscrupulous traders have continued to target these endangered species for tusks and game meat.

The Senior Warden committed to strengthening surveillance systems in the area to unearth the web of criminals that risks diminishing the numerous gains in the fight against poaching and trafficking of wildlife trophies that have won the country accolades.

KWS statistics also show that in the 1970s to early 80s, Kenya’s elephant population was estimated at 170,000 individuals which sharply declined to 16,000 elephants by the end of 1989 due to worldwide demand for ivory.

Thanks to the government’s continued interventions through legal and policy measures, the declining trend has been reversed resulting in the national elephant population increasing by more than five per cent to the current population of 36,000 by August last year.

To steer clear in the war on poaching, former President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2016 led the setting ablaze of more than 100 tons of ivory and rhino horns that had been apprehended from poachers in various parts of the country in Nairobi National Park.

By Erastus Gichohi

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