Kenyan police have seized 39 elephant tusks and arrested a man believed to be a dealer in poached wildlife products.
Acting on a tip-off, officers from the Special Crime Prevention Unit raided a home in the Githura-Kimbo suburb of Nairobi on Tuesday and found the ivory contraband valued at more than $108,500, according to local media reports. The tusks weighed 112 kilograms.
The tusks are said to have been harvested from both young and adult elephants at various times.
The Director of Criminal Investigations, Ndegwa Muhoro, who led a team of police officers who carried out the operation, is reported as saying that the suspect is believed to be a member of an international gang of smugglers in illicit wildlife products.
“We have found materials in his house that suggest he is part of a transnational gang that is dealing in ivory,” the Standard newspaper quoted Mr. Muhoro as saying.
It remains unclear whether the tusks were from elephants poached in Kenya or in other African countries. Tests by experts at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) are expected to ascertain the origins of the tusks.
Earlier this month, KWS rangers seized eight elephant tusks worth 1.5 million Kenya shillings when they raided a smugglers’ hideout in the Kirisia Forest in Samburu Central Sub-County in northern Kenya. The suspected poachers fled.