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3 Kenyans charged with smuggling ants worth Sh300,000

The trio was arrested trying to export the ants to China and France

Harvester ants

Three Kenyans, including a young couple named Martin Nyota and Rose Wairimu, as well as Eunice Muthoni, an employee of the postal corporation, have been charged with attempting to illegally export harvester ants worth Sh300,000.

The charges were brought against them for dealing with live wildlife species without obtaining the necessary permission from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

The trio appeared before the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) court and pleaded not guilty to five charges related to their involvement in the incident.

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Of the three, Eunice Muthoni faced an additional charge of facilitating the illegal export of the ants.

During the court proceedings, the prosecutor emphasized the urgency of prioritizing the case, as the lives of the ants presented as evidence were at stake.

The government plans to hand over the ants to the National Museum of Kenya for research purposes.

However, the exact purpose behind the attempted exportation of the ants remains unclear at this time.

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Muthoni and Wairimu were released on Sh50,000 cash bail, while the court continues to examine the evidence and investigate the case further.

The harvester ant, scientifically known as, Messor cephalotes, is a species found in East Africa.

These ants are known for their exceptional size, with queens sometimes reaching over 20mm in length. They are also known for their distinctive black coloration with intense red highlights

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.While they are a fascinating species to observe, they also play an important role in their ecosystem.

The harvester ant is a foraging ant that collects seeds and other plant material.

In doing so, they help to disperse seeds and promote plant growth. They also help to aerate the soil and improve soil quality through their digging activities.

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Additionally, Messor cephalotes has been found to play a role in preventing land degradation.

While the ants does not have any direct economic significance to humans, they do play an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystems.

By promoting plant growth and improving soil quality, they indirectly benefit humans by providing ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and soil fertility

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