A senior figure in an elephant conservation charity that was featured on David Attenborough’s Africa series has been charged with the illegal possession of 41 pounds of ivory close to the Kenyan game park where she works.
Wildlife rangers found six tusks in Soila Sayialel’s four-wheel-drive and arrested her and her son, Robert, on suspicion of smuggling.
Sayialel, 50, is the deputy director of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, which was featured in the final episode of Mr. Attenborough’s television show as an exemplary conservation organization. It is led by Cynthia Moss, 70, an American pioneer in elephant research, who has spent more than 40 years working with the animals in Amboseli, a reserve in southern Kenya in the shadow of Mt Kilimanjaro.
“We are very sorry to report that the Amboseli Trust for Elephants is facing some of [its\ most challenging times ever,” Ms. Moss said.
“We have no belief in these allegations and we are confident an investigation will exonerate them of all charges.
“We ask everyone to remember that we have fought for and dedicated our lives to elephants for decades. We do not intend to stop now.”
Lawyers for Soyialel and her son, an IT specialist at the trust, claimed in court in Kenya on Monday that the tusks were planted in their Land Rover by Kenya Wildlife Service staff. “The accused have been … spearheading conservation efforts,” said Philip Murgor, their lawyer. “This seems to have rubbed the Kenya Wildlife Service the wrong way.” More....