It’s been a busy 2013 for Kenya Wildlife Service



On March 26, a Chinese man (Tian Yi) admitted smuggling 439 pieces of ivory from Democratic Republic of Congo to Hong Kong via Nairobi. He was caught at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on March 10, 2013 while in transit from DRC to Hong Kong.

According to the Kenya Wildlife Service, the contraband had been chopped into pieces of two inches each and painted brown. They were then hidden in a suitcase and mixed with tree barks to disguise it as traditional medicine. But he was detected and intercepted by a joint security team comprising Kenya Airports Police Unit, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Airways (KQ) and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

On March 25, the Kenyan (Makadara Law Court in Nairobi) court fined him KSh30,000 (about US$350). Not surprisingly, he has paid the fine and has been set free.

Still to go through court system:

  • two men who were arrested March 22 by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers, who seized four pieces of ivory (83 kg) in Kasigau Village in Taita Taveta;
  • three suspected poachers arrested March 25 with 27 kg of ivory, two poisoned arrows and a weighing machine;
  • two suspects arrested on March 24 with four pieces of ivory recovered in Mau Forest (Nakuru County);
  • a suspect arrested in Isiolo County with four pieces of ivory on March 25, 2013
  • a suspected ivory smuggler arrested March 31 with 19 pieces of ivory in Eastleigh in Nairobi

This follows on the heels of:

  • two ivory smuggling suspects (Ruth Ochola, 57, and Stephen Glommi Mbot, 45) who were arrested by KWS with five pieces of ivory in their hideout at Umoja estate, in Nairobi (arraigned March 14)
  • A joint operation by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers and the Kenya Police to pursue a suspected poaching gang that escaped arrest in a case where KWS officials came under fierce gun fight at Bisan Hargeisa, near Mwingi town, Kitui County on March 8, 2013. Authorities recovered 28 pieces of ivory weighing 121 kg, and a motorbike.
  • A Chinese man (Feng Jinzhang, 50) was arrested at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport  for trying to smuggle ivory while on transit from Contonou, Benin to Guangzhou, China on March 10, 2013).
  • Recovery (in January and February 2013) of two AK 101 rifles, three magazines and 20 rounds of ammunitions that were stolen from two Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers who were ambushed by poachers and shot dead while on a patrol mission to remove wire snares (traps) used to kill wild animals at Sagala Ranch, Taita Taveta County in March 2012.
  • Conviction Somane Shafa in a Wundanyi Law Court on February 26, 2013 to 4 years in jail for being in possession of ivory.
  • Arrest of a Chinese woman (Yan Jiping, 39) for smuggling worked ivory (a necklace, a bangle and two pieces of rings) at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport while in transit  from Maputo, Mozambique to Guangzhou, China, on February 20, 2013.
  • Arrest of two Tanzanian nationals on February 17, 2013 with 16 pieces of ivory weighing 141kg at Ongata Rongai Township on the outskirts of Nairobi County. They were released on a bond of Sh0.5 million (US$5,900) each by a Kibera court with a hearing set May 3, 2013.
  • Arrest of a Chinese national at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport with assorted pieces of ivory beads packed in two suit cases weighing 58kg, while trying to board a Kenya Airways flight to Guangzhou, China, on February 17, 2013. He was employed by a construction firm in Nairobi, and said he bought the contraband at Maasai market – a popular city open air market for tourist souvenirs.
  • Arrest of two Tanzanian nationals (Mr Musa Felicia and Mr Victor Mawalla) on February 18, 2013 with 16 pieces of ivory weighing 141kg in Ongata Rongai Township on the outskirts of Nairobi. Authorities impounded a Tanzanian registered vehicle that had a specially fabricated false bottom under the back seat.
  • A suspected poacher was gunned down while his accomplice escaped towards Makalia River after a gun battle with Kenya Wildlife Service rangers in Lake Nakuru National Park in February. An M16 rifle and 17 rounds of ammunition were recovered.
  • Arrest of a suspected trophy dealer on February 7, 2013 with two pieces of ivory at Kencom city bus terminus in Nairobi County while boarding a matatu to a city estate. Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officials were trailing the suspect. It is believed the suspect had ferried the ivory from his home area in Mariakani in Kwale County for sale to buyers in the city.
  • Two suspected poachers were gunned down in Lower Imenti, Meru County. A G3 rifle, five rounds of ammunition and assorted crude weapons were recovered. Two pieces of ivory were also found intact on the elephant carcass. The carcass had arrow wounds.
  • Three Chinese nationals (Baolini Li, Yang Congoi and Yu Lizhone) were arrested smuggling ivory while on transit from Yaounde, Cameroon, to Guangzhou, China, aboard a Kenya Airways flight at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on January 29, 2013. They were found smuggling eight pieces of worked ivory, 10 chopsticks, 15 wallets made of python and cobra skins and four bungles all weighing 1kgs.
  • On January 29, 2013, three Chinese nationals pleaded guilty to ivory smuggling charges at a Makadara Law Court and fined Sh30, 000 (US$350) each. They had been arrested at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport while on transit from Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo to Guangzhou, China, aboard a Kenya Airways flight on January 27, 2013. The court also ordered they forfeit to the state assorted pieces of ivory products comprising of five pendants, 23 bangles, a pen holder, 28 beaded bungles, 40 chopsticks, six necklaces, five pieces of worked ivory and two pieces raw ivory weighing 9.6kgs.
  • During the week of January 21, a magistrate at the Makadara Law Courts ordered that five suspected ivory smugglers holding Vietnamese passport remain in police custody until an interpreter was found to aid in their prosecution.
  • Five Vietnamese suspects (Vu-Thi-Dung,30, Nguyen Quan Vinh, 52, Nguyen Thi Thao, 30, Le  Thi  Thur, 33, and Pham Ngoc Thanh, 40) were arrested on January 22, 2013 at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in transit from Luanda, Angola, to Bangkok, Thailand. They were in possession of assorted worked ivory including three pendants, eight bangles and three necklaces.
  • On January 25, one suspected poacher from Tana River County was shot dead at a private Taita Ranch after a fierce gun battle involving KWS rangers. Five accomplices escaped arrest. Authorities launched a massive manhunt for them in Tsavo. Two axes, weighing scale, sufuria mosquito nets, three AK 47 rifles and 574 rounds of ammunition were recovered.
  • On January 24, three of a four-man gang believed to have invaded Shimba Hill National Reserve on a poaching mission were gunned down. The fourth gang-member escaped with injuries in the Kwale County based ecosystem. A male adult elephant which was trapped with snare wire on the leg and pierced with arrow wounds with tusks intact was recovered. Two spent cartridges of 7.62mm calibre, arrows, and assorted foodstuffs and utensils were also recovered. KWS officials had been pursuing the gang in the last four days following information volunteered by members of the public in the ecosystem located 30 km southwest of the coastal city of Mombasa.
  • During the week of January 14, Mombasa port authorities captured 638 pieces of ivory weighing 3827 kgs, wrapped in bundles of gunny bags with an estimated value of over Sh100 million (US$1.18 million) while being smuggled in a container to Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • On January 18, 2013 a poacher was shot dead at Umbi in northern Tsavo East. Rangers who were on an early morning patrol came across three suspected poachers. When challenged to stop, they opened fire on the rangers. In the ensuing shootout, one of them was shot dead. A G3 rifle with 11 rounds of ammunition arrows and an axe were recovered.
  • On January 17, 2013, a small carton containing pieces of worked ivory comprising 11 bangles and 2 face masks, weighing 1.69kg, was intercepted at JKIA Postal. The parcel was destined for Bangkok and had originated from Bujumbura, Burundi.
  • On January 8, 2013, two suspected poachers were gunned down and a G3 rifle, 12 rounds of ammunition, assorted weapons, a weighing scale, and eight pieces of ivory were recovered in Mlango area in Isiolo Count. The felled gang was linked to a spate of elephant poaching in the area.
  • On January 6, 2013, two poaching suspects were arrested and a Carbine rifle with one round of ammunitions and ivory weighing 19kgs were recovered at Murit in the same county. KWS officials were following up information volunteered by members of the public that led to the arrest of the gang.
  • On January 5, an entire family of twelve elephants were poached and tusks carted off at Bisadi area of Tsavo East National Park. No arrest has been made following this single biggest massacre of elephants in recent past. Initial reports indicated that a gang of ten are believed to be behind the latest poaching incident in the vast protected area. At 22,000km2 Tsavo is the country largest single contiguous ecosystem and home to an estimated 13,000 elephant according to 2011 census.
  • Preliminary result in a 2012 aerial census estimate elephant population at 6,454 in the 59,000 km2 Laikipia, Samburu and Marsabit ecosystem.  Kenya has about 39,000 elephants.

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