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Seizure of Elephant tusks and Rhinocerous horns

Date Published: 24 Aug, 2010
 Seizure of Elephant tusks and Rhinocerous horns

KWS rangers and officers display ivory seized at the Jommo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). The cargo weighing two tonnes, was destined for Malaysia through Dubai by Emirates airline.

Two suspects were arrested over seizure of 317 pieces of raw elephant ivory weighing 2 tonnes and five rhino horns at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi.Investigations are continuing over the source and sender and recipient of the illegal cargo, which had been disguised as only avocado fruits.Most of the tusks seem to have been collected from natural deaths of about 150 elephants over the last 20 years with the latest likely to be six months old. None of the tusks had the indelible ink used for marking government held stocks. DNA tests will be conducted to determine the tusks actual origin. 

The seizure and arrests was a joint operation involving the Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Revenue Authority, Lusaka Agreement Task Force, the Kenya Police and the Trans-global Warehouse security personnel.On August 21, 2010 at around 9pm, Trans-global warehouse security contacted the KWS JKIA Canine Unit about a suspicious cargo for export destined for Malaysia through Dubai by Emirates airline.The cargo which was falsely declared as containing only fresh avocado fruits was packed in 12 wooden boxes which raised a red flag due to its mode of package, weight and destination.

The contraband was packed amongst avocado fruits wrapped in black polythene papers and banana leaves in the wooden boxes. This packaging was intended to disguise the true content of the cargo to evade security detection.
In the recent times, cases of illegal trafficking of wildlife products through Kenya’s ports to the middle and Far East destinations has been a matter of concern. This year, wildlife contraband which has been exported to these destinations has been intercepted in Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong (China). The seizure is so far the largest elephant ivory recovery in Kenya in the recent past which has caused great concern to law enforcers and conservationists. Kenya continues to experience increased elephant and rhino poaching.According to our records, in 2007, the number of illegally killed elephants stood at 47, in 2008 at 94 while in 2009 they stood at 204, representing sharp increase in poaching. On the other hand, rhino poaching numbers in 2008 stood at five compared to 13 in 2009. Kenya loses about 200-300 elephants every year to natural causes.

In response to this increased poaching and illegal trafficking in trophies, KWS has started implementing wide-ranging reforms in force modernisation, including creating various specialised law enforcement units to curb wildlife-related crime. It is also in the process of enhancing its law enforcement capacity through up-skilling law enforcement staff, the acquisition of ivory detectors, and other specialised security equipment to counter wildlife crimes more efficiently. We are also strengthening linkages with other law enforcement agencies.KWS would like to call for the fast tracking of the passing of the new wildlife policy and law to provide for more deterrent sentences, inter-agency collaboration to fight the crime. We also appeal for public support for information on wildlife-related crime.Any elephant anywhere is important because once poachers are through with the vulnerable populations, they will come for Kenya’s better protected. Most poachers prefer South Africa (Oliver Tambo), Kenya (Jomo Kenyatta) or Ethiopia (Addis Ababa) because of ease of reaching the Far East where the demand for ivory remains high. Elephants irrespective of origin is the property of the world and Kenya will play its part as a CITES signatory. 


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