Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya on Tuesday presided over the burning of 13.5 tonnes of sandalwood that had been seized during security operations in Samburu.

The wood was destroyed at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters in Nairobi, at a ceremony attended by DCI boss Mohamed Amin and US Ambassador to Kenya Margaret Whitman.

Tuya noted the exercise was a symbolic demonstration of the commitment and team work of various stakeholders to break illicit networks involved in the growing illicit trade of sandalwood and its products.

The CS further pointed out the global demand for the wood oil that has led to the creation of an expansive illicit network of traffickers.

The ceremony brought together officials from the Kenya Forest Services, DCI, Ofice of the Director of Public prosecution, Judiciary as well as the Kenya Wildlife Services.

On his part, DCI Director Mohamed Amin said the East African Sandalwood had been listed as an endangered species.

“We appreciate the need for multi-agency collaboration in the fight against wildlife, forestry and fisheries crimes in Kenya, and acknowledged that no institution can single handedly mange this fight,” he said

Sandalwood harvesting was declared illegal by the government in 2007 but despite the ban the overexploitation of the tree continues to prevail.

By Fred Azelwa.