Rage as Ivory Crime Boss Remains Free


Save the Elephants

Date Published

Outcry in Kenya is rising as a crime boss alleged to be a major force behind Kenya’s ivory trade remains a free man despite a warrant for his arrest being issued six weeks ago.

Citizens are demanding to know why low-level poachers and smugglers involved in the ivory trade are being arrested while crime kingpins are left alone.

This week customs officials at Nairobi’s international airport seized a quarter ton of ivory and shot at least one poacher as he hacked the tusks out of an elephant, but while the criminals sponsoring the trade are left alone there will be no end to poaching.

It is alleged that Feizal Ali Mohamed has masterminded the slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants and is a major beneficiary of Kenya’s illegal ivory trade. When two tons of ivory were seized  in Mombasa on June 5th, four low-level ivory handlers were arrested but Mohammed is still at large.

Creating a political and legal environment where major traffickers are made accountable for their crimes against their country is key. To help bring this about Save the Elephants is working with Wildlife Direct in Kenya. The Save the Elephants / Wildlife Conservation Network Elephant Crisis Fund (ECF) has just awarded a $93,000 grant to Wildlife Direct to establish a legal team to monitor courtrooms across Kenya.

Previous work by Wildlife Direct funded by the ECF established that only 4 per cent of offenders convicted of wildlife crimes went to jail. In cases of offences against elephants and rhinos – which could potentially attract jail sentences of up to 10 years – only 7% of offenders were jailed. 78 per cent of offenders were found guilty, but during the period of the study, criminals were consistently given lenient sentences and fines well below the maximum of KES 40,000 (approx. USD $460).

Following the passing of Kenya’s new Wildlife Bill, maximum penalties have now increased to a life sentence and fines of up to KES 1,000,000 (approx. USD $11,000).

Paula Kahumbu, director of Wildlife Direct, has written a blistering opinion piece in The Star newspaper about the ongoing controversy over Mohammed’s continued freedom, and coordinated an open letter to the Inspector General of the Police about the issue.