Tag Archives: KWS

Counting the cost of East Africa’s poaching economy

Organised crime gangs generate staggering profits smuggling ivory and rhino horn

AFP

Published: 15:33 March 23, 2014

Nairobi: Organised crime gangs in East Africa are generating staggering profits smuggling ivory and rhino horn with impunity, experts say, threatening both an irreplaceable wildlife heritage and key tourism industries.

Kenyan and Tanzanian ports are the “primary gateway” for ivory smuggled to Asia, where demand is fuelled by increasingly affluent markets, especially in China, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) warns.

Last year, seizures of ivory shipments reached “record levels”, according to a recent Interpol report.

“Large-scale ivory shipments — each one representing the slaughter of hundreds of elephants — point to the involvement of organised crime networks operating across multiple countries,” Interpol said.

 Poaching has risen sharply across Africa in recent years.

Organised gangs with insider knowledge and armed with automatic weapons and specialised equipment such as night vision goggles, brazenly use chainsaws to carve out the rhino horn or remove elephant tusks.

Veteran Kenyan conservationist Richard Leakey has now warned that drastic action must be taken, saying that known ringleaders in Kenya are operating with “outrageous impunity”.

The rise in poaching, with animals being slaughtered inside even the most heavily guarded national parks or conservation areas, show that the poachers have little fear of tough new laws designed to stem the wave of killings, he said.

“They could not operate with the impunity we are seeing if you did not have some form of protection from law enforcement agencies,” Leakey said, as he made an appeal for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to take action.

“It is a problem of a few criminals… the ringleaders are known,” he added, claiming that a core group of around 20 to 30 people were organising the mass poaching but that none had faced justice.

It’s a lucrative business: a kilo of ivory is worth some $850 (Dh3,121) in Asia, with UNODC suggesting ivory smuggled to Asia from Eastern Africa was worth over $31 million in 2011.

But such short-term and finite profits generated by the spate of killings are threatening the far more valuable tourism industry, which in Kenya and Tanzania is the second largest foreign exchange earner after agriculture.

“The African elephant is not currently deemed ‘endangered’ as a species, but its decimation in Eastern Africa could be devastating,” UNODC’s report read.

“In addition to the reduction in genetic diversity, its loss could seriously undermine local tourist revenues, a key source of foreign exchange for many of the countries of the region.”

But the region’s two large container ports — Mombasa in Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania — are also notorious trafficking hubs, funnelling more elephant tusks to Asia than all of central, southern and west African nations combined.

The two nations made up almost two-thirds of all large shipments of ivory seized across the entire continent from 2009-2011, according to the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), a tracking database run by wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.

Seizures of containers crammed full of tusks — often hidden under foul-smelling fish or dried chili peppers in a bid to confuse sniffer dogs or discourage detailed searches — are regularly found.

Much of the ivory smuggled is destined for China, whose rapidly growing economy has encouraged those enjoying disposable income to splash out on an ivory trinket as a sign of financial success.

“Growing affluence in China, where possession of elephant ivory remains a status symbol, appears to have rendered China the world’s leading destination for illicit ivory,” the UNODC report added.

The smuggling of rhino horns is a bigger problem for Southern Africa, which has far more of the endangered animals. It is often done by air, due to the value of the horn and its smaller size.

But scores of East African rhinos are also being killed despite wildlife rangers often risking their lives to protect them.

 Few convictions

===================

 Action is being taken including far stiffer sentences for wildlife crime, with Tanzania this month jailing a Chinese ivory smuggler to 20 years in jail, and Kenya introducing tough new laws with comparable penalties.

But many escape justice: a recent study by the Kenyan conservation campaign group Wildlife Direct found that just four percent of those convicted of wildlife crime in the past spent time in jail.

Tanzania last year launched a crackdown on suspected poachers, operating under what was reported to be a shoot-to-kill policy and making sweeping arrests.

Leakey, 69, a Kenyan national and former head of the government’s Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), said with the “right management” stemming the poaching was “not an impossible” task.

He was key in stemming the rampant poaching of the late 1980s, bringing in extreme measures to combat poachers including sending helicopter gunships into national parks, and organising the iconic burning of stockpiled ivory.

“It is not valuable, it is tragic rubbish,” Leakey said, waving an ivory carving seized from a smuggler, the tiny tusk of a baby elephant.

“It is putting at risk our heritage… you can regrow a crop but you cannot regrow a wildlife species that disappears.”

This article can be found in this link:

http://gulfnews.com/news/world/other-world/counting-the-cost-of-east-africa-s-poaching-economy-1.1307699

Richard Leakey calls on President Kenyatta to invoke Emergency Response on Elephant and Rhino poaching

19 March 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:Dr Richard Leakey, Founder –WildlifeDirect, leakey@turkanabasin.org

“My fellow Kenyans, poaching and the destruction of our environment has no future in this country”

These were the words of President Uhuru Kenyatta at his inauguration almost exactly one year ago. Today in the year of the 50th anniversary of Kenyan independence, I am asking the president to put his words into action and declare a NATIONAL DISASTER. I ask him to invoke emergency measures to crack down on the poachers and to declare elephants and rhinos National Treasures under protection of the state. In 1989, President Daniel Arap Moi took such extraordinary measures and wildlife poaching was curbed within 6 months. I am certain that this can be achieved again.
Elephants and rhinos declining in Kenya
Though KWS are not making information public, already this year we have lost at least 14 rhinos, more than in the whole of last year. Rhinos have been gunned down in our national parks, often in broad daylight and from sites close to ranger posts. Rhinos have also been lost from heavily fortified private conservancies that were believed impregnable. KWS estimates the population of Kenyan rhinos at more than 1,000 of which just over 50% are in the National Parks. However, independent scientists doubt this figure and question the data – 38 rhinos that have not been seen for more than 3 years are still in the parks are still counted in the total. An independent audit of rhinos is conducted in all conservancies but not parks.

KWS report that fewer than 400 elephants are killed annually across the country. The results of a KWS census last month reveal that the elephant population in the Tsavo Ecosystem alone has fallen by 1,500 over 4 years. The census found 800 elephant carcasses.

Newspaper coverage and conservationists in the field also report that elephant are being shot and killed in Tsavo, Masai Mara, and Amboseli and other parks by poachers armed with automatic weapons. Many others are shot with poison arrows, causing unimaginable pain followed by slow death.
Kenya is the world’s hub for ivory smuggling
The latest Interpol report reveals that Kenya is now No. 1 in the world for ivory smuggling. The port of Mombasa serves as a staging post for ivory from Tanzania and many other countries. More than 13 tons of ivory were seized in Kenya last year and we can only speculate at the quantities that passed through undetected.
A study of trials in Kenya reveal that fewer than 4% of all convicted poachers are ever jailed. Interpol reveal that despite many ivory seizures in Kenya, no dealers have ever been arrested and prosecuted in court. A major rhino horn smugglers caught at JKIA was released. A Chinese ivory dealer was sent back to China. If a Kenyan threatened a Chinese Panda bear, he or she would face life imprisonment.

Current measures are not enough
Despite our best efforts, the new law, the creation of an elite force in KWS, the promises of the Judiciary and DPP, and the commitment stated by the President, our elephants and rhinos are being massacred across the nation.

Tough new laws that mean convicted poachers and traffickers can be given life sentences,have not resulted in a single offender jailed without the option of a fine. In a recent case a Chinese man was arrested in Riverside Drive where he was manufacturing ivory carvings and sending them out of Kenya through Chinese mules who are being sent to Kenya as “tourists”. He was sent back to China without ever going to a Kenyan court. Last week the court acquitted Chinese national, Ou Kai Ming, even though he had been caught red-handed by customs officials at JKIA.

On the ground poachers have a free rein in many places. KWS staff who attempt to do their job are under increasing threat of violence and at least 8 KWS rangers have lost their lives to poachers in recent years. Managers who allow poaching to happen on their watch are simply moved to other locations, instead of being held to account for their dereliction of duty.
Emergency provisions under status as National Disaster
The failure of leadership and resources at KWS is compounded by the failure of the state to recognize that this is not just a wildlife crime. The president can no longer ignore the fact that these criminals belong to international crime rings that pose a major threat to the economy and national security. In 1989 President Moi recognized that the country was facing a national crisis and acted presidentially to stop it.
I am calling on the president of the Republic of Kenya to address the problem because our national security agencies are not working together to combat this threat to national security. I am sure that the Ministry, NIS, CID, KWS all know who the top dealers and financiers of this bloody business are. They number fewer than 50 people, some of whom have been exposed in the media, but not one has been arrested to date.
In responding to the threat of piracy Kenya’s performance was exemplary. This is the kind of coordinated, fully committed response we need to the poaching crisis.
The voice and political will of our president are most critically needed if we are to win this war. The Kenyan public, corporations and our international partners will all respond favorably when decisive action is taken. The president cannot afford to leave a legacy for future generations of Kenyans that does not include elephant and rhinos.

___________________________¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬____
Richard Leakey, 19 March 2014

About us:
WildlifeDirect is a Kenyan NGO and US registered 501(c) (3) organization co-founded in 2004 by Kenyan conservationist Dr. Richard Leakey, who is credited with putting an end to the elephant slaughter in Kenya in the 1980s and delivering an international ban on ivory trade. Kenyan Trustees include Irungu Houghton, Ali Mohamed and Philip Murgor. The CEO is Dr. Paula Kahumbu. WildlifeDirect is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. WildlifeDirect is dedicated to “Changing minds, behavior and laws to ensure Africa’s critical species endure forever.”

Hands Off Our Elephants, our flagship campaign comprises a winning combination of expertise including wildlife ecologists, communications specialists, lawyers, politicians, media representatives, strategists, and linguists, making us bold, influential, and successful. This African led initiative is supported by Kenya’s First Lady, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta as patron. The campaign has already mobilized the public in Kenya and driven legal reforms in Kenya and East Africa. WLD partners with civil society, government agencies and is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative on elephants.
Contact Paula@wildlifedirect.org

Suspected poacher killed in Lake Nakuru

By James Kariuki

A suspected poacher was Tuesday killed by Kenya Wildlife Service(KWS) rangers within Lake Nakuru National park.

Senior Warden Adan Kala told the Nation that a team on patrol sighted a group of three people moving on foot along a popular animal track and trailed them.

“They managed to shoot one dead while the other two fled towards the densely forested section within the park. We have sealed off the entire park and are now using a sniffer dog to search for the suspected poachers,” he said.

Mr Kala said they managed to recover four poisoned arrows, a spear and some foodstuffs which the poachers had carried for use in their rhino poaching mission.

He said stern measures had been taken to safeguard rhinos against poachers saying a round the clock surveillance would be carried out all the time with co-ordinated intelligence activities being carried out around the park .

He said this year, four rhinos had been shot dead by poachers who used guns while the current trend of using bows and arrows showed that the poachers had changed tact due to imminent tough measures taken to protect rhinos.

“Rhinos are our flagship brand for this park since flamingoes have shifted to other parks due to reduced forage and tourists are now flocking to our park due to abundance of rhinos,” he said.

The above article is in this link: http://www.nation.co.ke/news/-/1056/2248396/-/14d3lmk/-/index.html

 

Passing of a giant: death of an elephant

Paula Kahumbu, The Guardian
March 8, 2014

Those who collaborate in this suffering by buying, wearing and displaying vanity products made from smuggled ivory should know their true cost and feel deeply ashamed.

The following article was written by Mark Deeble , a film maker living and working among elephant herds in the Tsavo National Park in northern Kenya with his partner Victoria Stone. It is an edited version of a longer article that originally appeared on Mark’s own blog. The content speaks for itself.

“Recently, we went on a recce for the film. We arrived at a distant waterhole – seemingly hewn out of ochre. That warm glow seemed reflected in the animals that, as we watched, came to drink. A magnificent bull elephant, encrusted with dry mud, drank calmly and deeply.

He might have travelled thirty miles to reach the water. He wasn’t going to hurry now. He’d drink a while and then rest in the shade, and then drink again as the shadows lengthened – or so we thought. What actually happened was that he drank deeply, stepped away, and then suddenly collapsed. His legs spasmed as he thrashed in the dust – and within minutes he was dead.

It was utterly shocking.

Our plans for the day changed rapidly after that. A call to a Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) vet resulted in an impromptu post-mortem beside the waterhole. He removed the head of a poisoned arrow embedded in the bull’s flank, and released over 100 litres of pus from the hidden infection – the result of the bull’s encounter with a poacher months before.

There are many different ways to kill an elephant. Across Africa, elephants have been targeted with rocket-propelled grenades, helicopter gunships, automatic rifles, poisoned arrows, wire snares, spears, poisoned foot-spikes, poisoned food, and poisoned salt-licks and waterholes.

In Tsavo the poachers’ method of choice is the AK 47. It can bring down an elephant quickly, and a gang of poachers can target whole elephant families. The huge number of illegal weapons in Somalia and its porous border with Kenya means that sourcing weapons is easy.

The problem for the poacher is that the sound of a gunshot can carry for miles. Almost every Kenyan now has a mobile phone and a call to KWS can result in an aircraft on site in under an hour. The influx of cheap Chinese motorbikes into Kenya in recent years has meant that poachers, weapons and ivory can be moved around more quickly and easily than in the past. Still, poachers have to work fast to chop the tusks out, cover their tracks and get away before rangers arrive on the scene.

The alternative is poaching with bows and poisoned arrows and we are seeing many more elephants now with festering arrow wounds. Bow-hunting sounds clean and selective. The reality is quite different. This isn’t the extraordinary long-bow style of hunting that powerful Waliangulu hunters traditionally used, which earned the admiration of chief Park Warden David Sheldrick over sixty years ago and could, reportedly, fell an elephant from 200 paces.

Today’s bow hunting poacher shoots from a blind by a waterhole. He fires an arrow, smeared with poison, into the flank of the elephant in the hope that it can pierce the body cavity. If it does, and the poacher is lucky, the elephant might die in an hour or two; if not, he might have to follow the elephant for days before it collapses.

Often the arrow head fails to penetrate the body cavity properly, and localized infection produces a grapefruit-sized boil. It doesn’t mean that the poison won’t eventually kill the elephant, but it will be a slow and lingering death.

I recently spent a month at a waterhole, filming the herds as they came to drink. On one occasion a herd of eleven big bulls came in that I hadn’t seen before. They were nervous and aggressive. Almost all of them had wounds on their flanks – some old, but some fresh and oozing pus.

On two bulls I could see broken shafts protruding where the elephant had tried to pull out the arrow. One bull carried five wounds. It was too late in the day for the vet to come and assess them. The next day, the bulls did not appear and we never saw them again. It felt like they were on the run – but where they were going, we’ll never know.

When I think about the death of that magnificent bull at the waterhole, what stays with me after the shocking thump of his body hitting the ground, was the extraordinary quiet that descended. Eland and hartebeest raised their heads, and guinea fowl froze. Even the pond-skaters stilled a while on the surface of the water.

In those few seconds it felt like we all were united in acknowledging his passing. With the death of such a magnificent animal, the world seemed a poorer and emptier place.”

Very few poachers go to jail, new study shows (Kenya)

Frankline Sunday, Standard Digital News
January 30th 2014

Only 4 per cent of offenders convicted of wildlife crimes in Kenya go to jail. This is according to a study conducted by wildlife conservation groups on wildlife-related crime and prosecution in Kenyan courts, which will be presented to the office of the Chief Justice today. The study, which analysed court records of cases pertaining to wildlife-related crime in 18 courts, reveals that poaching cases are treated with leniency with the majority of perpetrators paying token fines despite the severity of their crime. “Between January 2008 and June 2013, a total of 743 pending and closed wildlife-related cases were registered in criminal registries of several law courts across the country and of these only 4 per cent of the offenders convicted of wildlife crimes went to jail,” reads the report in part. The report further states that in cases of offences against elephants and rhinos, which can potentially attract jail sentences of up to 10 years, only 7 per cent of offenders were jailed. Lead author According to lead author of the report Dr Paula Kahumbu, who is also the executive director of Wildlife Direct, poachers in the country are getting more brazen owing to the lenient fines. “We make it easy for poachers and dealers to operate in our country and this leniency in our courts has led to a culture of impunity within the criminal fraternity,” she said. “Kenya has become a safe haven for international criminal cartels that control poaching and trafficking in our country and we hope that this study triggers an immediate government response to address the problem,” she said. The new findings come barely two weeks after the enactment of Kenya’s new Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013. The new law, which came in effect on January 10, has increased the penalties to be meted out to convicted poachers and traffickers particularly those found dealing with endangered species.

Some of the provisions of the new law include a minimum fine of Sh20 million or life imprisonment for offenders against elephants, rhinos and other endangered species. Two days ago, a Chinese national convicted of ivory smuggling was the first to be sentenced under the new law. Tang Yong Jian, who was arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport with 3.4kg of ivory in his suitcase pleaded guilty to the offence and was handed a fine of Sh20 million or a seven-year prison sentence. According to the report, however, corruption particularly among government wildlife custodians makes it difficult to rein in on poachers and public officials who collude with poachers. “Though there were frequent news reports of KWS officers being arrested for involvement in these crimes, the study did not find a single verdict that highlighted this problem,” reads the report.

The human cost of the demand for ivory (Kenya)

Sarah Morrison, The Independent

December 19, 2013

Every time Lemayan Lelesiit spots an aircraft in the sky, he asks his mother if his dad is nearby. Her answer, she says, breaks her heart each time.

Lemayan, who turns two next month, will never get to meet his father. The former ranger and pilot, Moses Lelesiit, died two years ago when his aircraft came crashing down. He was taking part in an aerial patrol of one of Kenya’s protected conservation areas. He died while trying to defend its elephants and rhinos from the poachers’ guns. He was 41.

Young Lemayan’s story is anything but rare. Scores of families gathered yesterday in Nairobi to commemorate those who had lost their lives in the fight to protect their country’s wildlife. Demand for ivory does not cost just the lives of 100 elephants per day across Africa; across the continent some 1,000 rangers have died in the conflict during the past decade.

In Kenya, they are known simply as “the heroes”. Sixty names adorn a monument in the capital representing all those who have died in the conservation battle since the 1970s. They are mostly men – fathers, sons and brothers – who died while trying to stop poachers from driving Africa’s wildlife to extinction. They almost all left families behind.

Moses’s widow, Habiba, was pregnant with Lemayan when she found out her husband had died. She lost the only breadwinner in her family. She lives in Maralal, a small market town in northern Kenya, and has two other children, aged eight and 13, to support.

“I didn’t believe it when I was told. He was the one who provided everything,” she told The Independent. “Every time my son sees a plane, or a man in uniform, he asks me if his dad is near. Each time, I have to tell him: ‘No, you do not have a father.’ Who could leave a small boy to grow up without a dad? They are very bad.”

She is talking about the poachers who are wreaking havoc across Africa. It is estimated that 20 per cent of Africa’s elephants could be killed in the next decade if poaching continues at the current rate.

Catherine Kalunde Mutua, 30, lost  her father – a ranger – when she was just eight years old. He was shot by bandits while out in the field. “Life was very hard. We were left with our mother, who was not working. We were poor and could only send one brother to secondary school.” Her brother, Arbanus, was given around 67,000 Kenyan shillings, or about £475, in compensation, but the money will never bring loved ones back. “If I had the chance to be a ranger, I would destroy all the poachers,” Arbanus said.

Aggrey Maumo, an assistant director for the mountain conservation area of the Kenya Wildlife Service, knows all about the danger waiting for rangers on the ground. Maumo was with a ranger earlier this year as poachers shot him down. He was 29. “It was very bad. He was shot when I was there. He was the breadwinner of the family.”

He added that he had lost about 70 elephants in his area this year – around 90 per cent as a result of poaching. “We must engage the international community. We must tell them it’s dangerous – that people are losing their lives.” As for those on the front line, he is adamant they are not forgotten. “We must remember these fallen heroes – they died in the line of duty.”

Kenya: Six Jumbos Killed in Kajiado

By Kurgat Marindany, The Star

2 October 2013

At least six elephants have been killed by poachers in three community conservancies in Kajiado West constituency in less than two months.

Residents are now appealing to Kenya Wildlife Service to increase surveillance in Loita, Olkiramatian and Shompole where poachers are targeting.

The Olkiramatian Conservation Project secretary, Joseph Sirai, told the Star that he counted six elephant carcasses in Loita conservancy alone that had no tusks.

He said the poachers are now using poisoned arrows rather than guns which are killing a mature elephant in less than five seconds. He said when the poisoned arrows make an elephant rot in less than two minutes and makes it easy for the tusks to be hacked off.

“This is a new tactic that is very dangerous. The arrows do not make any noise like guns,” Sirai said. KWS spokesman Paul Mbugua said there is an upsurge of poaching in Loita. He said many poachers come from Tanzania.

“We are aware of the poaching and have increased the number of rangers. The challenge however is arresting the suspects as they flee to Tanzania and it is difficult for us to trace them,” he said. Mbugua said poachers are a threat to tourism. “Sampu and Shompole lodges are likely to close down if the number of the visitors goes down.”

Article at the following link:

Kenya: KWS Kill Three Suspected Poachers in Tsavo

By Joseph Muraya, Capital FM

9 September 2013

Nairobi — This happened after they defied orders to surrender and instead fired at Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers who had laid an ambush. One of the suspects is believed to have escaped with injuries according to the KWS officials.

KWS communication manager Paul Udoto says that rangers had laid an ambush for the last 10 days in the park when they encountered the poachers.

A rifle with six rounds of ammunition among other assorted equipments was recovered from the suspects.

Other items included two machetes, a knife, two pieces of assorted poison, an axe, two mobile phones, a leather bag, some food and water.

Police officers from Mtito Andei police station have visited the scene of crime to conduct further investigations.

The government is faced with a major challenge of poaching mainly targeting elephants and Rhinos, sparking fears of a possible extinction in the near future.

Last week (September 6) KWS successfully translocated 21 rhinos from Lake Nakuru National Park and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to the newly established Borana Rhino sanctuary in Laikipia.

Ten rhinos were moved from Lake Nakuru National Park while the other 11 were translocated from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.

KWS spokesperson Paul Muya says the translocation is aimed at establishing a new rhino population and keeping the established populations in Lake Nakuru National Park and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy productive by maintaining their numbers below their ecological carrying capacity levels.

“We want to establish a viable stock of the recommended number by the International Union for Conservation of Nature of up to 21 rhinos,” he said.

Muya noted that the number of rhinos breeding at the Lake Nakuru National Park had increased enormously creating concerns that it may lead to a food crisis for other wildlife at the park.

“We have currently 140 rhinos in the park,” he revealed.

“Black rhinos have steadily increased within the sanctuaries necessitating removals to avoid negative density dependent effects. However, many established sanctuaries still remain overstocked hence new secure habitats are required.”

The current Conservation and Management Strategy for the Black Rhino in Kenya 2012-2016 sets targets on restocking former free ranging areas which can support large populations, as well as the creation of Intensive Protection Zones (IPZ) and secure sanctuaries in order to achieve its strategic objective of population expansion to reach a confirmed total of 750 black rhinos by end of 2016.

Article at the following link:

KWS accuses the rich of poaching (Kenya)

RAPHAEL MWADIME, The Star

September 6, 2013
Kenya Wildlife Services has linked influential business people to the illegal ivory trade in the country.

KWS spokesperson Paul Mbugua told the Star during an interview that the recent seizure of 3.3 tonnes of illegal ivory in Mombasa shows the trade involves wealthy people.

“Through our intelligence officers, we have managed to unravel a network of people involved in the illegal ivory trade in the country,” Mbugua said.

He said most of smuggled ivories are seized at the port and no one turns up to claim them. “We cannot reveal the names of those involved in this illegal business,” Mbugua said.

He said ivory and horns from elephant’s and rhinos are shipped out using illegal routes along the porous Kenyan border. “The ivory consignments we have intercepted at our airports and the Mombasa port are usually on transit,” he said.

Mbugua said most border points across the country are porous and boda bodas are used to ferry smuggled goods. Mbugua defended Chinese working in construction companies in the country against claims that they have promoted poaching.

He said most poachers are Kenyans. “No foreigner has so far been arrested,” he said. Kenya has lost 214 elephant’s and 36 rhinos to poachers this year.

Kenya Wildlife Services has linked big influential business people from Western African countries to the Illegal ivory trade in the country.

KWS spokesperson Paul Mbugua revealed to the Star during an interview that preliminary investigation have revealed a network of business people from West African Countries involved in the illegal trade.

Mbugua cited the recent seizure of 3.3 tonnes of illegal ivory at Mombasa as an indication that the trade involves big moneyed people.

“Through our intelligence officers we have managed to unravel a network of people involved in the illegal ivory trade in the country. Some are foreigners from West African Countries who do business in the country,” said Mbugua adding that most of the seizures made at the port, the owners have never went back to claim their goods which area worth billions of shillings thus concluding that those involved in the business are stinking rich people.

When asked whether Kenyan Politicians are involved in the illegal trade, Mbugua said that those involved in the trade are rich people and soon they will zero on them.

“We cannot reveal the names of those involved in this illegal business at this time. However, we have managed to unravel the mystery of those involved in the illegal trade,” he said.

The KWS Spokesperson said that ivory and horns from elephant’s and Rhinos poached across the country are shipped out using illegal routes along the porous Kenyan border points without necessarily using airports and the Mombasa port.

“The ivory consignments we have intercepted at our airports and the Mombasa port are usually on transit. This shows that the elephants tusks and Rhino horns poached in the country are ferried using illegal routes along the porous border points,” he said.

Mbugua pointed out that most border points across the country are porous adding that bodaboda taxis are the most notorious for ferrying illegal goods.

“Our border points are very porous. Bodaboda taxis are notorious for ferrying illegal goods including wildlife products outside the country,” he said.

Mbugua distanced Chinese citizens working in construction companies in the country against the escalating elephant and Rhino poaching in the country.

“We have arrested 10 Chinese citizens in the country involved in contraband ivory and all of them were on transit. We have also nabbed seven Vietnamese, one American, one Tanzanian and one American but were all on transit,” he said.

Mbugua said that those involved in poaching are mostly local citizens. “Those people we have arrested involved in poaching are mostly local citizens. No foreigners have so far been arrested,” he said.

So far, Kenya has lost 214 elephant’s and 36 rhinos to poaching this year.

Kenya urges world to impose moratorium on ivory trading to save wildlife

Kenya urges world to impose moratorium on ivory trading to save wildlife
CCTV.com

September 6, 2013

NAIROBI, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) — Kenya’s first lady Margaret Kenyatta on Thursday called on the international community to place a moratorium on ivory trading in order to save the elephant from extinction.

Margaret who has launched an anti-poaching campaign dubbed “Hands off our Elephants,” whose main objective is to educate Kenyans and the world on the need to conserve the elephant for posterity also called on the world to help Nairobi save her elephants.

“To address the problem of poaching there requires global action and we ask our friends especially those where ivory is in demand and where domestic ivory markets exist to help us,” she said at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi.

Kenya lost 289 elephants to poaching in 2011 and another 384 elephants in 2012. Lion is also one of the most endangered animals not only in Kenya but across Africa, according to statistics from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

The first lady, who also adopted a baby elephant, said poaching was not only a conservation problem but also affects Kenya’s economic stability, prosperity and security.

She stressed that elephants are also a major tourist attraction to Kenya, saying the government earns revenues totaling to 1.34 billion U. S. dollars annually.

Ivory trade threatened over 300,000 jobs in the country with millions of other direct and indirect beneficiaries from tourism being affected, according to the Kenyan first lady.

Margaret said there is need for the global community especially countries where demand and markets for ivory exist to take a frontline position in the war against poaching and ivory trade.

Protecting Kenya’s 38,000 elephant herd is both an ecological and economic imperative. Kenya has been identified as one of the leading transit routes for smuggling ivory out of Africa, with several incidents of ivory seizures and recovery of wildlife carcasses in recent days.

The KWS estimates that more than eight tonnes of raw and worked ivory have been seized since 2009. The demand for ivory in the Far East has attracted criminal cartels to Kenya, who are feeding the insatiable demand.

Margaret said the campaign was important because elephants are a major attraction to international and domestic tourism noting that the world would be unimaginable without elephants.

“Elephants are a major attraction for international and domestic tourists. Protecting elephants requires large amounts of space, which means many other species benefit,” she said.

Margaret said the campaign has received overwhelming support from the media and other stakeholders and expressed hope that it would succeed in eradicating poaching not only in Kenya and Africa at large.

Article at the following link: