Kenyan police on Wednesday said they seized 11 pieces of elephant tusks weighing 50 kilograms in a forest in the coastal county of Kilifi.
Kaloleni divisional police commander, Kennedy Osando, said a contingent of security officers ambushed two men who were selling the ivory tusks in the forest on Tuesday evening.
Osando said one suspect was arrested while the other escaped. The suspect, he said, is being interrogated by the police.
“They were looking for buyers while hiding in the forest, our officers pretended to buy and pounced on them,” Osando told journalists in Mombasa, noting that the police are combing the forest in search of the other accomplice who escaped.
Police believe the two are a dealer and a poacher. Osando said three of the tusks were fresh and the elephants might have been killed some weeks ago and that the elephants were still youth given the length of the tusks.
“We have to get the suspect, we have to fight for our animals, we have to fight this illegal trade,” said the local police officer.
Kilifi County borders Taita Taveta County which is a home to Tsavo East National Park and Tsavo West National Park hosting hundreds of elephants.
Kenya has been identified in various researches as one of the leading transit routes for smuggling ivory out of Africa, with several incidents of ivory seizures and recovery of wildlife carcasses in recent times.
The conservationists decried the entry of organized crime syndicates into the illegal wildlife trade, most notably of rhino horn and elephant tusks, has created a crisis situation in many African countries.