The Kenya Forum | Elephant poaching and ivory trafficking in East Africa - The Kenya Forum

February 27, 2014


Annually, it is assumed 10,000 elephant are killed by poachers in Tanzania. In Kenya, strides against elephant poaching are happening slowly.

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Elephant poaching and ivory trafficking in East Africa

Elephant poaching and ivory trafficking in East Africa

Kenya continues to be a transit route for ivory in Africa, majorly through the port of Mombasa, which according to a new survey accounted for the largest volumes of ivory seizures in Africa, with over 10 tonnes of illegal ivory intercepted at the port between January and October 2013


According to the report, ‘Elephant Poaching and Ivory Trafficking in East Africa – Assessment for an effective law enforcement response’, by Interpol’s Environmental Security unit, Tanzania takes the lead as a source of illegal ivory in East Africa. It’s reported that about 30 elephants are killed in Tanzania every day, which amounts to more than 10,000 annually.

The report indicates that Kenya recorded lower rates of poaching in 2013 compared to Tanzania, a fact credited to the country’s better law enforcement policies on poaching.

Poachers killed approximately 280 elephant in Kenya last year, a huge number but down from 2012 when 384 were killed. Kenya’s elephant population is estimated to be around 35,000.


Following the rampant cases of poaching that have posed a serious threat to the population of elephants and rhinos in the country, Kenya has been forced to come up with more stringent anti-poaching laws in order to deter the booming ivory business.

A Chinese man became the first poacher to be sentenced under the new laws, which sets out stiffer penalties for poaching, after he was ordered to pay $230,000 or spend seven years behind bars for trying to smuggle ivory out of Kenya. Previously, such a crime would attract a fine of less than $1000.


The report recommends greater information sharing to enable a more proactive and effective law enforcement response against trafficking syndicates, who are reported to operate in multiple countries.

“There is need of more integrated approach for a more effective response to poaching. Information from poachers, documentation obtained during seizures, interviews with associated traffickers and other evidence, all of this needs to be systematically gathered and analyzed for a collective response”, said David Higgins, The Environmental Security Unit head.

It also highlights the need for increased intelligence analysis in order to provide sound evidence for multiple count indictments where the trafficking is linked to fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.

“Canada continues to make a positive contribution to this fight, having recently announced an additional two million dollars in emergency funding support to combat wildlife trafficking in Eastern Africa in order to disrupt illicit networks involved in poaching and the illegal trade of wildlife,” said David Angell, Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya, in whose residence the report was launched on Wednesday.


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