The seizure last week of elephant tusks in the Al Shabaab controlled area of Somalia has raised concerns the rebel group may be targeting Kenya’s treasured wildlife to raise funds for its war activities.
Bonaventure Ebayi, the director of the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF), a regional anti-poaching initiative operating from Kenya, confirmed the seizure.
"We were able to use the Kenya security forces and with assistance of security forces from the Somali Transitional Federal Government to recovery the ivory," Ebayi told Xinhua in an interview in Nairobi on Wednesday.
The ivory is suspected to have come from the Arawale National Reserve, a 533 sq kilometer wildlife sanctuary managed by Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS).
The official said the seizure, the first of its kind in the region, has raised concern of increased poaching in the region, where areas near insurgent activities the most affected by wildlife crime.
"The challenge of poaching and illegal wildlife meat in eastern Africa is made worse by insecure patches especially along the shared borders," said Ebayi.
Several border points, rich in wildlife, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia, among others, are controlled by insurgents, Ebayi said.
Kenya is one of the countries that has seen its elephant population decline sharply due to poaching, which peaked in the mid-80s before a concerted government effort that led to the arrest and prosecution of poachers.
"It is in such areas where lack of state presence, means illicit small arms like guns are available to criminals and can easily be used to kill wildlife." More....