Are all Poachers the Same?

Are all Poachers the Same?

Last week's seizure of 150 tusks by the KWS.
When times get bad, men get bad. But is the Kenyan government’s seizure last week of 150 elephant tusks the work of “bad men?”

Yes, for sure, if you believe that every law promulgated by man should be obeyed. The 317 pieces of raw elephant ivory (weighing 2 tonnes) and the five rhino horn were illegal cargo by both international and Kenyan law.

They were disguised in a container marked as avocados destined for Kuala Lumpur via Dubai on Emirates Airlines.

What’s interesting about this seizure made in Nairobi last week is that all the tusks and horns appear to be from animals that died naturally.

That leads to all sorts of other questions, of course. Is this an inside job, for instance?

Until now anyway, virtually all tusks and horns confiscated from dead animals were made by wildlife authorities. For one thing the park rangers generally know of the elephant and wild rhino that are ready to die, so they’re followed closely usually up to the very death.

And elephant and rhino die regularly to be sure. But the tusks from likely more than 80 elephants, and the horns from five rhino, means the cache was not collected quickly. At the very least we’re talking about a project of several years, and maybe more.

If it isn’t an inside job, then from my point of view these guys aren’t quite as bad as their counterparts who actually kill animals. And so far that’s what KWS is saying. It wasn’t an inside job.

Whoa. I’m not suggesting breaking the laws banning the ivory trade are sometimes OK. The point of the law is that any trade that occurs, whatever, generates a market that motivates more illegal trade. What I mean is let’s go a little bit lighter on the punishment.

Combing the bush for dead animals is a lot different than killing live animals.

Let me know what you think.