13 January 2005

Kenyan wardens warn of increase in poaching

Game wardens have arrested five people for possessing 36kg of elephant and rhino tusks during two separate raids in central Kenya, the spokesperson for the Kenya Wildlife Service said on Wednesday.

Kenya Wildlife Service game wardens arrested four people with 17kg of ivory in an unspecified part of central Kenya and one other suspect was arrested with 19kg of ivory in Mlango, about 200km north-east of the capital Nairobi, the organisation's spokesperson Connie Nkatha Maina said in a statement.

The Kenya Wildlife Service said it could not give any more details of the seizure because there was an operation underway in central Kenya to pursue other suspected poachers.

There has been heightened poacher activity in central Kenya, with rhino and elephant mortalities recorded in Aberdares, Mt. Kenya, Laikipia, Samburu and Isiolo," Maina said.

Kenya's elephant population has grown from around 16 000 to 27 000 since the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, banned the ivory trade in 1989. But that is far fewer than the estimated 167 000 elephants that lived in Kenya in 1973, before poaching devastated the country's herds.


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