Standard Digital (Kenya)

KWS lacks modern tech to win poaching cases, report warns

Caroline Chebet

Posted on: 22nd Dec 2018

The study that was conducted between 2016 and 2017 indicates that wildlife crime evidence in Kenya was stored in various locations including police stations, KWS storage rooms and court stations. This created challenges in producing it before courts.

“We documented several cases in which poor preservation of wildlife meat was the primary cause of acquittals in bush-meat related cases. By the time bush-meat samples arrive at the forensic laboratory they could not be properly analyzed and examined due to rotting,” states the report.

From the report, there is an urgent need to improve evidence collection, preservation and sampling guidelines to support front line officers who ordinarily have first contact with a wildlife crime scene.

SEE ALSO :Kenya praises China plan to uphold ban on rhino parts sale

In the two-year period, the report reveals that 957 wildlife crime court cases relating to 1,958 persons arrested for various wildlife crime offences were accessed.

The prosecution concluded 1,371 offences, out of which 72 were acquitted.

“Very few (5%, 72 offences) of concluded offences resulted in acquittals attributed to unsuccessful prosecution of charges. The prosecution failed to discharge this burden of proof due to challenges ranging from poor evidence and to poor trial advocacy concerns,” states the report.

Crimes against elephants attracted the most charges with most trafficking cases related to raw elephant tusks and worked ivory.

The report notes that one trafficking suspect, Feisal Mohamed Ali, who was convicted in 2016 and sentenced to twenty years and a fine of Sh20 million for trafficking 2,152 kilograms of elephant ivory in 2014 appealed and won back his freedom.

Overturned conviction

“The conviction of Ali was overturned on appeal in by the High Court of Kenya at Mombasa although the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is now appealing the case,” the report notes.

The case, the report noted, was challenged from the start with the magistrate acquitting four of the five accused persons.

A number of arrests were made in counties that have protected parks, reserves and sanctuaries.

Arrests were reported in Tsavo, Mount Kenya, Amboseli, Meru national parks.

Other arrests were reported in Laikipia and South Kitui National Reserves; Maasai Mara Game, Arabuko Sokoke and Kakamega forest reserves.

Taita Taveta, Makueni, Kakamega, Laikipia, Narok, Meru,Kitui, Nairobi ,Kajiado and Kilifi Counties led in seizures of wildlife products and arrests.

Some 237 suspects were arrested. Of these, 223 were arrested for possessing and dealing in elephant ivory, rhino horn (10) and pangolin (4).