Kenya Ivory Arrests: IFAW lauds Inter-agency Collaboration to Arrest Suspects

Kenya’s arrest of three suspects, thought to be the kingpins linked to the seizu
Monday, 8 June, 2015
Nairobi, Kenya

Kenya’s arrest of three suspects, thought to be the kingpins linked to the seizures of nearly seven tonnes of elephant ivory in Singapore and Thailand since the end of April, has been applauded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare - IFAW.

A multi-agency task force arrested the suspects – a wealthy business man and his two sons – in an upmarket area of Mombasa last week. The trio appeared in court on Friday, and according to newspaper reports, brings to 14 the number of individuals arrested in connection with the illegal shipment of ivory from Mombasa Port.

Two consignments of ivory had been shipped from Mombasa Port, in containers and disguised as tea leaves. On 25 April Thailand authorities made the first seizure of three tonnes of ivory. According to reports the consignment had passed through several ports including Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore before being discovered on arrival in Thailand.  

The seizure of 3,7 tonnes in Singapore on 19 May was the island nation’s second largest seizure of ivory in a decade.

Kenya police said a raid on the Mombasa home of the suspects had revealed multiple identity documents, in different names and for both Kenya and Tanzania. The investigation was conducted by officials from a variety of Kenya’s law enforcement agencies, and INTERPOL.

“These arrests are an admirable demonstration of how multi-agency cooperation can help stop the poaching of elephants and illegal trade, said James Isiche, IFAW Regional Director, East Africa.

“No country or organisation can single-handedly combat wildlife killing and trafficking hence the need to develop strong partnerships not only amongst countries but international agencies. IFAW is happy to support such initiatives and strongly believes that a coordinated inter-country and inter-agency approach amongst source, transit and destination countries is critical to effectively mitigate wildlife crime,” he said.

“Cooperating with agencies such as INTERPOL, and the law enforcement bodies of other governments helps to map and profile those behind this most tragic slaughter of elephants”.

This weekend Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, vowed to arrest and prosecute all government officials linked to ivory trafficking. “Speaking at an event at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, he said: “If as officers of Kenya Revenue and Kenya Ports authorities you allow exportation of ivory for a few shillings, you are destroying the heritage of this country and the future of our children”.

Referring to last week’s arrests President Kenyatta vowed to ensure “all those who involved in that ivory smuggling (event) will be arrested and jailed”.

Isiche pledged IFAW’s support to the government in their fight against poaching.

“The pledge by HE the President to lead the war against the trafficking of ivory from the front is refreshing and should be emulated by leaders in the region (which is the main source of seized ivory in the world) and globally. Indeed the only way that Kenya will end this stigma of being the trafficking route of choice is by smashing the cartels and bringing the main culprits to book whether they are dealers or facilitators in government,” said James Isiche.

So far 14 arrests have been made in connection with the Singpore and Thailand seizures. A statement from Kenya’s Minister for the Interior, Joseph Naikassery, said intelligence gathered suggested that monies raised from the sale of ivory was intended to fund a secessionist group in Kenya.

One week before the April 25 seizure in Thailand, authorities there made the country’s largest ever ivory bust, intercepting four tonnes of ivory en route to Laos from the Democratic Republic of Congo. In total, newspaper reports indicate authorities have seized more than 16 tonnes of ivory have since 1 January 2015.

Most illegal ivory is destined for Asia, in particular China, where it has soared in value as an investment vehicle and is coveted as “white gold”. Limited availability of legal ivory in China purchased form the stockpile sale in southern Africa in 2008 has, in turn, boosted demand encouraging illegal ivory trade and the poaching of elephants to meet market needs.

According to an IFAW report Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade, ivory smuggling and the wildlife trade has been linked to other forms of organized crime including terrorism, illegal arms and drug trafficking.

As part of a worldwide capacity building initiative IFAW has trained over 2,450 law enforcement officers in wildlife trafficking prevention in several countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, and the Caribbean since 2006. Trainings are held in collaboration with national institutions in the respective countries and other organizations including Interpol. The organization has a Memorandum of Understanding with Interpol, the first ever signed by Interpol’s Environmental Crime Programme with an NGO. IFAW and Interpol have collaborated on numerous projects since 2005 including Interpol’s largest-ever illegal ivory trade operation in 2012.

Ends

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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