NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 24 – Authorities in Kenya have seized more than 82 kilograms of ivory and arrested five suspects in Voi town.
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said on Saturday that their security officials arrested the suspects on Friday night with the illegal elephant tusks.
“The five suspects were in two different groups with the first one having four pieces of elephant tusks weighing 52 kg while the second had 13 pieces weighing 30 kg,” a statement from KWS said.
The state run wildlife service termed the heist as a ‘phenomenal tragedy’ noting the devastation wild animals have endured in the recent drought.
“The suspects in Tsavo will be handed over to police and are expected to be arraigned in a Voi court next week,” KWS said.
Ivory trade was banned internationally in 1989 because of its devastating effect on elephant populations.
Before the ban was enacted, Kenya’s elephant population plummeted from 120,000 elephants in 1963 to just 12,000 a few decades later.
But after authorities realized elephants’ role in boosting tourism — one of Kenya’s top foreign exchange earners — they clamped down on the poachers.
The ban and subsequent enforcement slowed poaching dramatically, but in recent years it has begun to creep up, from 47 elephants killed in 2007 to 98 in 2008. So far this year, 125 already have been killed.