Illegal logger arrested with sandalwood worth millions

Police in Taita-Taveta have arrested a notorious tree poacher and recovered tonnes of sandalwood worth millions of shillings from him .

The security personnel nabbed the suspect in Wumingu forest after a tip off from members of public.

He was caught with 11 sacks of sandalwood, packed and ready for transportation.

Taita sub-county AP Commander Reuben Majoni confirmed the Sunday morning arrest stating that three other accomplices of the suspect managed to escape.

“We arrested the suspect with 11 sacks of sandalwood. His accomplices fled but we are pursuing them,” he said.

The AP boss said the suspect will be arraigned in court once investigations were completed.

He however blamed the hike in tree poaching to a cartel of unscrupulous wood dealers in Voi town.

He revealed that the suspect had admitted working for an unnamed dealer in one of the major towns in the region.

“We are following his links and we will apprehend all people connected with this cartel,” he stated.

Two weeks ago, another suspect was arrested with one ton of sandalwood, illegally felled from a government forest in Ndome area.

The suspect was arrested as he prepared to transport the cargo valued at sh 10 million.

County Forest Manager John Mbori said that the forests in the region were under threat of poaching from illegal dealers.

He said that the rare trees were being cut down and packed in small bags to be transported to Tanzania where the cargo is fetching high prices.

“The trees are being cut and smuggled to Tanzania through the porous border,” he said.

Last week, Kenya Forest Service officials and police found four tonnes of sandalwood at Mwandago Forest.

Members of public found the tree pieces concealed inside the forest and alerted the authorities.

Conservationists have of late raised the alarm over the wanton cutting down of rare trees in government forests despite a Presidential ban on logging of Sandalwood trees.

By Wagema Mwangi

Source: Kenya News Agency