NAIROBI, May 6 (Xinhua) — Kenyan wildlife authorities said they have arrested 18 suspects in anti-poaching sting operations conducted in Nairobi and eastern Kenya.
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) spokesman Paul Gathitu said the operations were conducted in the last week of April in Meru, Nairobi, Kitui, Makueni and Runyenjes regions.
“A total of 18 suspects were apprehended for crimes ranging from dealing in wildlife trophies to logging, and accordingly booked at various police stations,” Gathitu said in a statement issued on Friday night.
The conservationists have decried the entry of organized crime syndicates into the illegal wildlife trade, most notably of rhino horn and elephant ivory, which they said, has created a crisis situation in many African countries.
The KWS has expressed fears that the recent spike in poaching which has contributed to the depletion of wildlife including elephants, lions and rhinos, are threatening many years of conservation efforts and animal populations that had started to balloon.
Gathitu said during the operations, various wildlife trophies were recovered over the period including one leopard skin, three python skins, 24 pieces of elephant tusks whose combined weight was 191 kg and bush meat of 33.5 kg, an assortment of crude weapons and two torches.
“Three motorcycles were also confiscated including one belonging to a County government,” Gathitu said.
In the past month, Gathitu said 38 suspects were arraigned before various courts, charged with offences ranging from the possession of government trophies, dealing in wildlife trophies and attempting to export prohibited goods.
According to Gathitu, five cases were concluded in court between April 17-30, while 15 cases are still pending before court for the offences of being in possession of wildlife trophy and dealing in wildlife trophy.