Daily Nation/allAfrica

(NB: This story is talking about poached ivory – not about legal trophies. These tusks are poached, I repeat poached. Nation seems not to know the difference.KS)

21 SEPTEMBER 2020

By Stanley Ngotho

Detectives in Kajiado County are investigating a multimillion-shilling elephant trophies racket involving senior government officers after a man was arrested with assorted ivory products valued at Sh10 million.

This follows the seizure of elephant trophies worth millions of shillings in the town in the past three weekends in a row. The new trend makes Kajiado a poacher’s haven.

Police officers are said to be moving in earnest to break the racket and unmask two notorious civil servants said to be behind the syndicate.

Kajiado hosts three national parks and several private wildlife sanctuaries. Also the Namanga highway connecting Kenya to Tanzania is porous and is said to work to the advantage of poachers.

On Saturday, police working with Kenya Wildlife Service officers, acting on a tip-off, waylaid a 33-year-old suspect, who was found with ivory products estimated to weigh 10 kilos.

Running errands

The suspect was using a motorcycle to deliver the products to an unidentified buyer who was waiting at Kajiado town. The suspect claimed he was running errands for an unidentified senior government officer.

The products included several pieces of raw ivory, necklaces, bungles, and sculptures, among other assorted items.

KWS director in charge of Kajiado county Lmuarte Leng’uro said the arrest indicates the presence of a [thriving] black market involving elephant trophies in Kajiado.

“It is evident that trade in wildlife trophies is rampant in this region. It’s unfortunate the intricate web of poachers is run by civil servants,” said Mr Leng’uro.

Kajiado criminal investigations chief Isaac Meme said the suspects have been exporting the finished products to China,Bangkok and Vietnam.

Mr Meme said detectives are moving fast to arrest the two notorious civil servants said to be the racket’s masterminds. The million-dollar question remains: who are the two senior civil servants and who is protecting them?

He added that the business has seen escalation of poaching in Kajiado. “The multi-agency team has been deployed to unmask the civil servants suspected to be working in the shadows of their foot soldiers,” Mr Meme said after the arrest.