What you need to know:
- In joint operation, police and KWS officer seize 89kg elephant tusks worth Sh8.8 million.
- The two government agencies fight to store elephant tusks used as court exhibits.
- The police argue that they are mandated to keep all court exhibits but the wildlife rangers said they are the legal custodians of all game trophies.
A magistrate in Nyahururu was forced to intervene in a dispute in which the police officers and Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) disputed over who should keep court exhibits.
On Monday, KWS detectives from Laikipia West and Nairobi, and officers from Mairo-Inya Police Station went to Karampton trading centre in Ndaragwa, Nyahururu County posing as buyers of game trophies.
They approached a man identified as David Mwangi Ndegwa who was in possession of 89kg elephant tusks.
Mr Ndegwa was arrested and taken to Mairo-Inya Police Station. The tusks were confiscated. His accomplice, however, escaped.
Drama ensued in the Nyahururu court on Wednesday when Mr Ndegwa was arraigned.
He was charged, along with two others not before the court, with possession of four elephant tusks and trading in game trophies without a licence.
Police and KWS officers tussled on who was to keep the tusks presented as exhibits in court.
The police argued that they are mandated to keep court exhibits but the wildlife rangers said they are the legal custodians of all game trophies.
KWS officer Charles Mugambi, wanted the trophies stored at their office in Rumuruti, Laikipia County, while policeman Jeremiah Sakiti said the tusks should be kept at the Mairo-Inya Police Station in Nyandarua County.
“KWS is the custodian of all game trophies and therefore I would like to request the court to allow that the trophies be kept at our station in Rumuruti,” said Mr Mugambi.
But Mr Sakiti urged the court to allow the tusks to remain in their custody.
Resident Magistrate James Wanyanga intervened and ordered that the trophies remain within Nyahururu County.
“I can see that two government agencies are disagreeing on who should keep the exhibits. I therefore order that the trophies be kept at the nearest KWS station which is in Nyahururu since the court has no facility to store such exhibits,” he ruled.
Mr Ndegwa was released on Sh3 million bond with surety after he denied the two counts.
The case will be mention on August 28 and heard on December 11.