A Kenyan armed ranger stands guard at the site of burning contraband ivory in Nairobi March 3, 2015. (Xinhua/Pan Siwei)
A Kenyan armed ranger stands guard at the site of burning contraband ivory in Nairobi March 3, 2015. (Xinhua/Pan Siwei)

A global conservation group on Saturday lauded Kenyan police for arresting several people in connection with two cases of illegal ivory seized in Asia, and urged them to intensify investigations to bring more culprits to book.

A Kenyan armed ranger stands guard at the site of burning contraband ivory in Nairobi March 3, 2015. (Xinhua/Pan Siwei)
A Kenyan armed ranger stands guard at the site of burning contraband ivory in Nairobi March 3, 2015. (Xinhua/Pan Siwei)

African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) said the arrest of Abdurrahman Mohammed Sheikh, a tycoon living in Mombasa, and his two sons for their alleged involvement in illegal shipping of ivory from the port of Mombasa to Thailand and Singapore, was a stern warning to other perpetrators of illegal ivory trade.
“Kenya is sending a message that no matter your status or wealth or political connections, you will be brought to book if you are involved in the illegal wildlife trade,” AWF CEO Patrick Bergin said in a statement sent to Xinhua in Nairobi.
A joint sting security operation launched in the coastal city of Mombasa on Thursday netted three suspects believed to have aided export of a large consignment of ivory from Mombasa to Thailand and Singapore. The government on Friday confirmed the arrests, saying 11 other accomplices have also been arrested and be taken through the due process. Two other suspects are on the run but security officers are closing in on them.
In April, Thailand authorities seized 3 tonnes of ivory hidden in tea leaf sacks from Kenya in the second-biggest bust in the country’s history. And in May, authorities in Singapore, operating on a tip-off from Kenya Revenue Authority customs officials, seized a shipment of ivory worth 6 million dollars en route to Laos from Mombassa.
“The coordinated investigation that led to Thursday’s arrests is exactly the kind of whole-of-government approach we need to tackle this elusive yet pervasive industry. All of Kenya’s agencies involved in the investigation should be commended,” Bergin said.
AWF, along with partners like International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Freeland Foundation, has been working to strengthen the law enforcement response to combat wildlife crime at the regional level by improving cooperation among African countries’ law enforcement authorities.
The work is being carried out under a continent-wide program called ARREST (Africa’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking), and implemented by the partners with support from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
“We will never halt the illegal ivory trade unless we are willing to throw kingpins and their middlemen behind bars, in addition to the poachers,” Bergin said.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery said Friday that intelligence gathered so far has confirmed a growing nexus between poaching and financing and facilitating crime, including terrorism. Enditem

-Xinhua

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