Poacher to pay Sh3m fine or face 10-year jail term

Prosecution said he had a previous conviction for burning charcoal.

In Summary

• The 32-year man to pay Sh3 million or spend 10 years in jail.

• Pleading for leniency Muriithi said he had a five-year-old child and lives on the streets.  

A KWS officer tries to lift a 46kg elephant tusk at Port Police, Mombasa, on July 9, 2013.
A KWS officer tries to lift a 46kg elephant tusk at Port Police, Mombasa, on July 9, 2013. 
Image: FILE

A 32-year-old man will spend ten years in jail if he fails to pay a Sh3 million fine for possession of wildlife trophy.

Meru chief Magistrate Lucy Ambasi convicted Francis Muriithi on his own plea of guilt to being in possession of one piece of elephant tusk weighing 6.5 kg on April 30 this year.

Muriithi was accused of committing the offence at Gichunge area, North Imenti without a permit from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

“I am a father of a five-year-old child and I live on the streets,” Muriithi said in his mitigation while pleading with the court for leniency.

In her ruling on Monday, magistrate Ambasi noted that elephants are protected species and the offence is noticeably rampant in the region which borders the Meru forest.

“The accused undertook a mental test where he was found fit for trial. The offence is rampant in the region which is near a forest as such the accused is convicted to pay a fine of Sh3 million in default serve ten years imprisonment for being a repeat offender,’’  the magistrate ruled.

State counsel James Kinyua had told the court KWS rangers acting on a tip-off arrested the convict with the ivory which was wrapped in two sacks.

The court was informed the convict wanted to ferry the wildlife trophy, produced as an exhibit in court,  to an unknown destination.

“The rangers laid an ambush and the accused was found carrying a sack. Upon search, the tusk was recovered.

Mr Kinyua had also informed the court that the suspect had a previous record of burning charcoal convicted and fined Sh30,000 or serve six months behind bars.

He called for a stringent sentence.

Ivory trade is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

According to KWS, poaching has become a menace in lower Imenti Forest raising concern to the community and the government.

KWS called for a deterrent sentence saying four elephants have been killed this year alone but suspects are still at large.

A social inquiry report prepared and filed before the court by Imenti North Probation Officer P.W Kioko recommended the accused serves a custodial sentence.

“I form the opinion the accused is not suitable for a non-custodial sentence and therefore recommend to be dealt with otherwise,’’ Kioko said

According to the report, the suspect has been leading a five-man gang dealing with ivory and arresting them had been difficult.

He has 14 days to appeal the ruling.

(Edited by O. Owino)