Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has unearthed an intricate illegal bush meat trade at the popular Burma Market in Nairobi’s Eastlands area and impounded 800 kilogrammes of bush meat that was being sold to unsuspecting customers as beef.
KWS security team in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies have so far arrested 15 suspects who were on June 28, 2019 arraigned before a Kibera law court to answer to charges of dealing, and being in possession of bush meat and selling uninspected meat among other charges.
Buying and selling bush meat is illegal and anyone arrested faces a jail term of not less than three years without an option of a fine. Consumption of bush meat is also a public health risk since the meat is not inspected. Zoonotic diseases such as Ebola and anthrax are linked to wild animals.
The arrest followed two poaching incidents that took place at Olturoto in Kajiado County and Portland Farm next to Game Ranch in Athi River, Machakos County on June 26, 2019 where two zebras were poached. KWS teams in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies pursued the suspects involved in the poaching incidents. They carried out an operation at Burma market and recovered the bush meat on June 27, 2019.
A motor vehicle believed to have been used by the criminals to ferry the recovered bush meat was also impounded. During the operation, it emerged that the outlet selling bush meat operated without a permit or license, pointing at impunity in Burma Market.
The operation established that the suspects involved in bush meat poaching have also been involved in livestock theft in parts of Kajiado and Machakos Counties, implying that the poaching suspects are determined to get meat from whichever source to sell to unsuspecting customers. KWS thus warns the public against buying meat from suspicious outlets operating without licenses.
KWS calls upon relevant authorities to ensure that meat outlets are regularly inspected and licensed as per existing laws and regulations. The public should report any suspected cases of poaching or bush meat dealing to KWS or other law enforcement agencies. Our 24 hour toll free number is 0800 597 000.
In the recent past, KWS has noted an increase in poaching for and consumption of bush meat in the country. A number of strategies have since been deployed to address the challenge, including heightened security patrols to curb poaching.