Three suspects including police officer arrested with ivory worth Sh800,000

An administration police officer and two civilians were on Sunday arrested after they were found with an elephant tusk weighing 1.5 kilogrammes.

The suspects, Simon Otieno who is a police officer and two civilians, Wycliffe Ndiema and Solomon Kibet were nabbed while ferrying the tusk valued at Sh800,000 using a motorcycle.

County Commander Ayub Gitonga said detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) intelligence officers posed as buyers before bouncing on the suspects along Endebess-Kitale road.

"It is true we have arrested three suspects after they were found with an elephant tusk and one suspect is a police officer. We have launched investigations on the matter," Gitonga told the Standard.

According to Endebess Sub-County criminal investigation boss Peter Ochieng, the suspects were on police radar and a trap was already established to arrest them.

"The three had been on our radar, and we dispatched officers to pose as buyers and caught ferrying the tusk on a motorcycle," said Ochieng.

He said the trio are key players in poaching activities at Mt Elgon National Park and have been put under custody before arraigned.

"We are holding them in custody before we present them in court. We are also pursuing other suspects linked to the crime," he said.

The arrest comes barely a week after Kenya Wildlife Service KWS launched a manhunt for six dangerous suspected poachers blamed on rampant poaching of antelopes and buffalos for meat at Mt Elgon National Park.

Endebess Deputy County Commissioner Harun Kamau and KWS Senior Warden Josephat Wambua a fortnight ago said they are on high alert on armed poachers trapping and killing wild animals at the park.

Wambua said KWS officers are tracking down armed men behind the poaching of wild animals especially buffaloes and antelopes.

"These people with an appetite for bush meat are giving us sleepless nights. We have six dangerous poachers who [we] will be pursuing, and we are urging the community to help us apprehend them," said the official without giving the figure of animals lost to poachers.

Kamau reminded the community of the importance of the conservancy citing benefits such as the funding of development projects by KWS.

"Destroying the conservancy will have a negative impact in your lives. KWS through partners has funded schools and empowered families and it is important to protect the park," said Kamau.

In May 2018, KWS ranger shot dead 3 suspected poachers during an exchange fire at the park.