A Kenyan police officer has been arrested with a piece of illegal rhino horn worth tens of thousands of dollars on the black market, wildlife officials said Tuesday.
Corporal Henry Mokua Onsongo allegedly threatened to shoot the arresting officers from the Kenya Wildlife Service before being overpowered and taken into custody with two other suspects on Monday night. A fourth man fled.
“The man was arrested with a piece of rhino horn weighing 600 grammes,” said KWS spokesman Paul Muya.
The policemen and the two other men were caught red-handed as they tried to sell the rhino horn to KWS agents posing as buyers after a tip-off.
Rhino horn is estimated to be worth twice as much as gold at $65,000 per kilogramme on the black market in Asia, where it is believed by some to cure cancer and have medicinal powers.
Conservationists say poachers can make up to $15,000 per kilogramme of rhino horn. Most Kenyans have to work for several years to earn as much.
Poachers often rent automatic rifles from police officers or soldiers for $200 or $300.
At least 59 rhinos and 300 elephants, who are hunted for their ivory, were killed in Kenya in 2013, according to the KWS.
The agency says a thousand rhinos and some 38,000 elephants remain in the east African country.
But other wildlife groups say they believe the actual figures are much lower, and that impunity and corruption are to blame for the continued illegal wildlife trade.
Photo Credits : AFP