Police in Kenya are holding a Ugandan national for allegedly smuggling ivory worth KShs3m (about Shs100m).
The suspect, who is alleged to be a Uganda People’s Defence Forces Lt Colonel, was on Monday arrested by officers of the Kenya Directorate of Criminal Investigations at a mosque in Busia township as he reportedly tried to sell the ivory.
Mr Bernard Wamalwa from the directorate said: “It’s true we have arrested a senior army officer from Uganda after we found him smuggling and trying to sell ivory.”
He added that the suspect and an accomplice, who is still at large, ferried the ivory in sacks into Kenya on motorcycles. Mr Wamalwa said the ivory was disguised as fresh cassava.
“... but using our intelligence, we were able to corner them at a local mosque where they were trying to sell it to a Somali national,” Mr Wamalwa said.
Mr Wamalwa said the suspect entered Kenya through Marachi on the border with Uganda.
He added that illicit trade in wildlife products was on the increase due to poaching.
Mr Wamalwa said the suspect would be arraigned before a Kenyan court on charges of possession of wildlife trophies contrary to Section 95 of the Wildlife Conservation Act.
Efforts to get a comment from the UPDF spokesperson, Brig Flavia Byekwaso, were futile by press time as her known phone number was not available.
A recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), noted that poaching of rhinos and elephants was on the rise.
The report detailed that crime gangs in East Africa fuelled by profits in the illicit trade threatened the existence of wildlife.
A recent report by Interpol noted that large scale ivory shipment represented the slaughter of hundreds of elephants and rhinos and pointed to increased organised criminal syndicates.
In Uganda, between February and June 2020, the Uganda Wildlife Authority registered an increase in cases of poaching from 163 in 2019 to 367 in 2020.