The mission statement of the Kenya-based organized Muslims for Human Rights is, “Promotion of a Culture of Constitutionalism and the Progressive Realization of Human Rights.” On Wednesday, August 27, this organization shared information claiming 18 suspected poachers have disappeared from the nation’s Tsavo National Park, home to 11,000 elephants, over the past three years.
One of Kenya’s most respected human rights organizations, Muslims for Human Rights report eight of these alleged poachers were last seen in the custody of Kenya Wildlife Service officers, and an official from the group, Francis Auma, says their bodies were later discovered in the forest, having been eaten by animals. The other ten are believed to have been shot by Wildlife Service employees.
While working to uncover the corrupt work of government officials, Muslims for Human Rights discovered Wildlife Services officers are possibly murdering poachers to cover up working with them on the illegal ivory trade. According to a report from Muslims for Human Rights, “officers dealt with these men and helped them with their poaching and in return the poachers would give a share of the profits to the officers. The involved officers kill them to keep their mouths shut. They are usually afraid the poachers would inform on them."
Furthermore, Wildlife Services officers would help arrange deals with ivory buyers, then kill the poachers afterwards to pocket all of the profits." Chief executive of Wildlife Direct, Paula Kahumbu, commented, “The [Muslims for Human Rights] security report confirms what we have been warning for some time, that systems at KWS [Kenya Wildlife Services] have broken down and the absence of leadership is the greatest threat to wildlife.”
Currently, poaching is a growing issue across Africa as poachers try to meet Chinese demands for ivory. In fact, it is estimated that 100,000 elephants in Africa were murdered solely for their beautiful ivory tusks between the years 2010 and 2012. Kenya Wildlife Services officers earn between $140 and $295 per month, and a pair of elephant tusks can bring in several hundred dollars for underpaid government employees.
Understandably, Muslims for Human Rights is gravely concerned about the abuses power made by these corrupt government wildlife employees. Yet, 18 “suspected” poachers disappearing over a period of three years seems hardly on the same scale as 100,000 elephants dying needlessly. There is no denying the importance of human rights but what about the rights of our world’s animal population?