, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 26 – A suspect from Thailand was arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on Saturday night with 19.5 kg of illegal ivory.
Police intercepted her on routine patrol while she was checking into a Kenya Airways flight at 11.30pm with 105 pieces of ivory bangles, necklaces and raw ivory while on transit from Maputo, Mozambique, to Bangkok, Thailand.
“She is expected to be arraigned before a magistrate at the Makadara Law Courts in Nairobi on Monday morning December 27, 2010,” said the Kenya Wildlife Service Corporate Affairs Officer Paul Udoto in a statement.
A seven-year-old boy and a man who were on the same flight were released after initial investigations failed to link them to the illegal cargo.
The arrest follows another one of a Singaporean national two weeks ago travelling from Lilongwe, Malawi through Nairobi to the same destination.
Mr Udoto said KWS has deployed sniffer dogs at the airports on a full-time basis to check on illegal trafficking in wildlife trophies at points of entry and exit into Kenya.
Various law enforcement agencies, including the Kenya Police, Kenya Wildlife Service, Customs as well as international ones like the Lusaka Agreement Task Force and Interpol are also working closely to ensure that no illegal wildlife trafficking occurs within the country and at its exit and entry points.
Recent trends show that most of the illegal wildlife trophy traffickers hide their goods in passenger baggage, cargo containers, on their bodies, false compartments on vehicles and commercial shipments.
Others provide incorrect information on customs documents, including the forging of signatures of export authorised officers. Others use courier services or as unaccompanied luggage.
Last year, KWS security units were involved in 21 confrontations with armed poachers. In these operations, 14 poachers were eliminated and eight others injured. At least three KWS rangers were injured.
A total of 13 firearms and 302 rounds of ammunition targeted at wildlife were recovered. A total of 178 elephants died through poaching in 2010 compared to 204 in 2009 showing a decline of 14.6 per cent in elephant mortality.
A total of 759 pieces of ivory weighing 2819.98 kg were recovered in 2010.
Traffickers arrested this year are from Britain, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Korea, Singapore, Tanzania and Thailand.
To address these challenges, KWS is engaging in massive force modernisation, strengthening of investigations, enhancing policing of exit and entry points especially airports, seaports and other border points.
Kenya is also aggressively implementing international conventions as well as enhancing local, regional and international cooperation in order to disrupt the organised criminal syndicate networks.
Meanwhile, tourists will pay more to visit the five Kenya’s most popular national parks from the New Year.
This follows the publication of new rates by Forestry and Wildlife Minister Dr Noah Wekesa in a Gazette Notice No. 207 of December 24, 2010 effective from January 1, 2011.
Premium national parks include Lake Nakuru and Amboseli whose fees for foreigners moved from $60 (Sh4,800) to $75 (Sh6,000) while wilderness parks of Tsavo East, Tsavo West, and Meru rose from $50 (Sh4,000) to $60 (Sh4,800).
The local rates now apply across the five East Africa Community member states of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi in line with the East African Community (EAC) Treaty.
Adult citizens of the five East Africa Community member states of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi will pay Sh500 from Sh300 to enter Lake Nakuru and Amboseli while children and students will pay Sh200 from Sh100 in line with the provisions of the EAC Treaty.
The name of the charges meanwhile has been changed from park entry fees to conservation fees to reflect the fact that whenever visitors enter national parks, they are making a contribution to conservation and continued survival of wildlife and their habitats for generations to come.