By Patrick Mayoyo
Two influential Coast businessmen, a central Kenya MP and a Rift Valley governor have been linked to the runaway poaching and ivory smuggling in the country.
Police officers, Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Revenue Authority officials conversant with ongoing investigations said they were pursuing leads linking the three individuals to the illegal ivory trade. (READ: China reiterates pledge to end ivory smuggling)
The three are reportedly part of an international ivory smuggling ring operating in the country. They have been linked to a container full of ivory intercepted at the port of Mombasa last month.
Detectives also discovered that ivory stolen from Mombasa State House was among that in the intercepted container.
On Tuesday, another container full of ivory was intercepted in Singapore and is being shipped back to Mombasa where it reportedly originated. (READ: Kenya a ‘major route for ivory smugglers’)
Police spokesperson Zipporah Mboroki promised to give a detailed statement on investigations into ivory smuggling after getting a briefing from officers handling the case at Mombasa port.
According to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), international organised crime syndicates are behind the killing of elephants and rhinos in Kenya and other African countries.
Cites says the gangs use the latest technology and have collaborators among local communities and security agencies.
Investigations have revealed that the international ring has devised ingenious ways of transporting their loot to evade detection by security agencies.
Their tricks include declaring containers ferrying the smuggled ivory as carrying either timber, fruits, electronics, tyres or other assorted goods. Most of the ivory intercepted in Asia is being traced to the ports of Dar-es-Salaam and Mombasa.
Wildlife experts and research scientists estimate that two elephants are killed per day — the highest number in recent times.
The statistics have sparked outrage among wildlife conservationists and raised fears the animals could become extinct.
KWS says there has been an upsurge in poaching in the last five years with more than 360 elephants killed last year compared to only 45 in 2007.
A recent census revealed that the country’s 35,000 elephant population had suffered a 14 per cent decline due to poaching and drought.
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