NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 2 – A businesswoman charged with the illegal sale of game meat over the weekend has been freed on bail after pleading her innocence.,
The woman denied before a Kibera court on Monday that she intended to sell more than 74 kg of game meat over the weekend at the popular Burma market, and was granted a cash bail of Sh40,000 or a bond of Sh30,000 with a surety in the same amount.
The hearing has been set for February 11.
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) investigators arrested the suspect on Saturday, and alleged that the woman had hidden the bush meat under a butchery counter and was mixing it with inspected meat on display, which she would then sell to unsuspecting buyers.
KWS Corporate Communications Manager Paul Udoto said in a statement that trade in such meat not only drives poaching, but also poses a great health risk to the public.
“Un-inspected meat is likely to transmit diseases such as Anthrax and Ebola,” said Mr Udoto.
“Unscrupulous meat dealers normally hide such bush meat and mix it with the inspected one. Bush meat is usually stale and steak with no bones,” he added.
During the raid on Saturday, another suspect who is thought to be involved in selling the game meat managed to escape the KWS dragnet.
However, a man who incited the public against the KWS officials was arrested, and is being held at the Shauri Moyo police station.
Rising cases of illegal gaming and poaching in the past couple of years has seen the KWS heighten its surveillance, to curb the practice.
In several incidents, the Wildlife Service has said that its rangers have exchanged fire with a number of poaching gangs, leading to the recovery of weapons and the elimination of several gangs, many of which are from Tanzania.
The Kenya Wildlife Service and Tanzanian Wildlife Authority are currently working closely on wildlife security through a cross-border agreement facilitated by the Lusaka Task Force.
The Task Force was established under the Lusaka Agreement, to fight wildlife crime in Africa. To date, six governments are Parties to the Agreement, which entered into force in December 1996.