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Ivory poaching kingpin gets 20 years in jail

  • Feisal Ali Mohamed was found guilty of dealing in ivory worth $433,000, which involved the killing of at least 120 elephants.
  • Principal magistrate Diane Mochache found Mohamed guilty and sentenced him to to 20 years in jail and fined him $200,000.
  • “This is the first time that Kenya has prosecuted a large ivory seizure to conclusion,” conservation group says.

On Friday, a Kenyan court sentenced Feisal Ali Mohamed, an ivory poaching kingpin, to 20 years in jail. Mohamed was found guilty of dealing in ivory worth $433,000 (or 44 million Kenyan Shillings), equivalent of killing of at least 120 elephants.

Principal magistrate Diane Mochache ruled that all the ivory in Mohamed’s possession be handed over to Kenya Wildlife Service within 14 days, according to Kenyan media. She also fined Mohamed $200,000 (or 20 million Kenyan Shillings) for illegally dealing in ivory.

Mochache, however, acquitted the other four accused persons — Abdul Halim Sadiq, Ghalib Sadiq Kara, Praverz Noor Mohamed, Abdulmajeed Ibrahim — saying that they had become involved in Mohammed’s transactions “unknowingly”.

“The guilty verdict is a strong message to all networks of poaching gangs, ivory smugglers, financiers, middlemen and shippers that Kenya will not watch as its elephant population is decimated or its territory used as a conduit for traffickers,” Kenya Wildlife Service said in a statement.

Feisal Ali Mohammed was found guilty of dealing in ivory worth $433,000, which involved the killing of at least 120 elephants. Photo by Rhett Butler.

Mohamed was accused of “dealing and possession of elephant tusks” weighing 2,152 kilograms (more than two metric tons) of ivory in June, 2014 in Mombasa. Two of his accomplices were arrested then, but Mohamed managed to escape. Finally, Interpol agents arrested Mohamed in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in December 2014. A month before that, Interpol had put him on a list of nine most-wanted suspects linked to crimes against the environment.

“This is the first time that Kenya has prosecuted a large ivory seizure to conclusion and it sends a very strong message to poachers and traffickers that Kenya will not tolerate them,” WildlifeDirect, a nonprofit conservation organization based in Kenya, said in a statement.

Interpol had placed Mohammed on a list of nine most-wanted suspects linked to crimes against the environment. Image courtesy of Interpol.

More than 30,000 African elephants are killed each year for their tusks, mainly to meet demands from East Asia, especially China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines.

Elephant numbers in Tanzania, Kenya’s neighbor, have declined by more than 60 percent between 2009 and 2014, from nearly 110,000 to fewer than 44,000. Experts say that elephant poaching in Africa has become more sophisticated and industrialized following the involvement of international crime gangs.

In April this year, Kenya burned more than 105 metric tons of elephant tusks in the largest-ever destruction of ivory stockpile in Africa’s history.