Interpol: Kenyan suspected ivory smuggler arrested

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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyan police have arrested an alleged ivory trafficker, who had been on the run for months, the international police agency said Tuesday.

Feisal Ali was arrested at a rental house in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Monday evening, said the head of Interpol in Kenya, Vitalis Okumu.

Ali was listed by Interpol as a most-wanted trafficker of ivory. The police group said the Kenyan was once found in possession of 314 pieces of ivory weighing more than 2 tons. Interpol alleged that Ali is the leader of an ivory smuggling ring.

Poachers have killed 142 elephants in Kenya so far this year down from 302 last year, Paul Udoto, a spokesman of the Kenya Wildlife Service said. At least 384 elephants were killed in 2012, out of an estimated population of 35,000, according to wildlife service statistics.

Udoto attributed the significant reduction in elephant killings to several developments including implementation of tougher anti-poaching laws in Kenya and international support from Interpol, China, the U.S., Britain and Canada.

Interpol recently began a most-wanted campaign to track suspects wanted for environmental crimes.

Interpol and the U.N. Environmental Program said in a joint report this year that the illegal wildlife trade and environmental crimes like the illegal timber industry is worth an estimated $70 billion to $213 billion a year. UNEP has said that the illegal cutting of timber and the poaching of elephants and rhinos are part of a "rapidly escalating environmental crime wave."

Demand for ivory from China's rising middle class and demand for rhino horn in Vietnam are imperiling two of Africa's most iconic creatures.

Kenya has said that demand for ivory had been fuelled of the partial lifting of an international ban on ivory trade to allow some countries that have accrued stockpiles elephant tusks to sell them off.

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