Nairobi police charged with ivory possession

Four police officers caught trying to sell ivory in Nairobi.

Four Kenyan police officers were charged with illegal possession of ivory at a Nairobi court on 1 March. The four policemen, who belong to a ministerial security unit, were caught attempting to sell a raw elephant tusk weighing five kilograms with a black market value of about $5,500.

The four were found in two government-registered vehicles at Nairobi West Shopping Centre on 29 February, after being trailed for hours by undercover police. They had been under investigation for months and were arrested following a sting operation by Kenya Wildlife Service rangers.

The four were also charged with a second count of dealing in wildlife trophies. They deny all charges against them.

Kenya's anti-poaching measures over the past three years have seen a reduction in the number of elephants killed from 384 cases reported in 2012 to 96 last year. Despite recent claims by Kenya's environment minister Judi Wakhungu that the country was winning the war on poaching, corruption remains rife and the vast majority of criminal cases end with poachers walking free.

However international pressure has pushed Kenya into taking sterner action against the poaching epidemic which is fuelled by demand from Asia. In April Kenya will make history when it burns some 120 tons of ivory – the largest ivory stockpile ever destroyed by any country - at Nairobi National Park.