By Winnie Atieno
Police are holding a Mombasa businessman in whose warehouse a huge consignment of ivory was found Thursday.
The 52-year-old car dealer is being interrogated in connection with three tonnes of ivory in his business premises.
Police also arrested a young man in his 20s from Lamu in connection with the ivory in the warehouse.
“Let us not pre-empt what the suspects have since they are still being questioned. The surnames are the same, but we cannot ascertain whether they are related, but the tycoon is the owner of warehouse,” said Mombasa OCPD Geoffrey Mayek.
County Commissioner Nelson Marwa said the officers, who were on patrol on Wednesday night, received a tip-off regarding illegal commodities in the warehouse in Tudor.
“Based on the information we got from Kenyans, our security officers moved fast, secured the godown and we were able to recover the elephant tusks.
We have about 74 small tusks estimated to be weighing 5kg each and 154 big tusks weighing about 10kg each,” Mr Marwa said.
He said that the officers involved in the operation were offered a Sh5 million bribe to release the suspect and the consignment, but they declined.
“You (politicians) always criticise officers, but today they refused a bribe of Sh5 million because they love their country and have a duty to protect it,” he said.
He said based on how the 228 pieces were parked, the consignment was ready for shipment.
At the same time, Mr Marwa said police were investigating whether there was a link between illegal ivory trade and funding of terrorism in the country.
ORIGIN OF TUSKS
“We believe that poaching and drug trafficking are used to fund the recruitment of Al-Shabaab and radicalisation of our youths in this part of the country but the government will bring the culprits to book,” he said.
Coast Kenya Wildlife Service regional assistant director Arthur Tuda said they were able to detect the origin of tusks through colouration.
“From the colouration of the tusks, we can estimate that they are from different sources — the brown ones could be from Savannah, mainly in Kenya, while the small ones, which are a bit darkish in colour, mainly originate from Congo. We can say they came from outside the country.”
Mr Tuda said it was difficult to give the value of the tusks since Kenya does not deal in ivory trade.
He, however, said more than 100 elephants had been slaughtered to get the 228 tusks.
“The rate of poaching is now low and it has been contained. What we are seeing now is people trying to ship out what they have been holding for a long time, we are closing in on the dealers. The government efforts are really working.”