Thursday, May 13, 2010

Security agents close in on poaching ring

By NATION Correspondent

Security agents in Nyeri are closing in on a network of poachers smuggling wildlife trophies from conservancies in the area.

Mr Robert Njue, the Kenya Wildlife Service assistant director in charge of the Mt Kenya region, said a prime suspect in the cartel has been arrested and is helping with investigations.

The official said the cartel poaches black rhinos and smuggles their horns, which are sold on the black market.

The horns are highly valued for medicinal purposes and for making dagger handles. The poachers and illegal dealers use lawless Somalia as a transit point.

Black rhino

Mr Njue said the man they arrested had confessed to involvement in a recent incident in which four poachers shot dead a black rhino at Solio conservancy.

The arrest brings to three the number of those who have been seized in connection with the incident that took place almost two weeks ago.

“We are closing in on the cartel that has put our wildlife at risk,” said Mr Njue. However, security personnel are yet to recover the animal’s horns and a fourth suspect, who is still on the run.

Most conservancies are yet to instal modern security systems such as surveillance cameras that have made KWS game reserves and national parks a no-go zone for poachers.

Criminals targeting wildlife have also changed tack, using highly poisonous arrows and spears instead of guns to conceal their activities.