NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 11 – The State has dropped ivory possession charges against a renowned Amboseli elephant conservationist Susan Soila and her son Robert Ntawasa.
Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Kioko Kamula told a Nairobi court that the evidence in the file against the two had been compromised.
Soila, the Deputy Director of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants and her son were arrested in May last year with 19 kilograms of ivory valued at Sh1.9 million.
They were later arraigned in court and were charged on three counts of having ivory without permission, found in their car when police arrested them in Emali.
They pleaded not guilty to all charges and were released on a bail of Sh200,000 each.
They had alleged through their lawyer Philip Murgor that they were framed by Kenya Wildlife Service rangers.
“This case serves as a good example as to why all KWS investigations on serious poaching of elephants and rhinos together with prosecutions should be directed and conducted by DPP’s office. My clients are grateful that they stand vindicated of the false accusations and that they can now resume their work in conservation in the country,” Murgor said after the charges were dropped.
Last year, poachers slaughtered 302 elephants in Kenya, while in 2012 KWS said 384 were killed up from 289 in 2011, from a total population of around 35,000.
In 2012 and 2013, more than 1,000 people were arrested for committing wildlife crimes.
A new report by INTERPOL on poaching recommended the need for greater information sharing to enable a more proactive and effective law enforcement response against trafficking syndicates.
The report for 2013 by INTERPOL’s Environmental Security Unit highlights the need for increased intelligence analysis in order to provide sound evidence for multiple count indictments where the trafficking is linked to fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.