Kenya seizes ivory worth 1.16 mln USD in Mombasa

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Kenyan authorities on Tuesday evening seized 638 pieces of ivory worth 1.16 million U.S. dollars at the Port of Mombasa as poachers intensify illegal activities on the wildlife.

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Head of Operations at Port of Mombasa Gitau Gitau said the 638 pieces of ivory were seized in a 20 feet container disguised as decorating stones and were destined for Indonesia from Tanzania.

"We got an alert about the consignment from the head office in Nairobi and upon offloading and opening the container, we recovered the ivory that was disguised as decoration stones," Gitau told journalists on Tuesday evening.

Rampant poaching is continuing despite Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) introducing the Canine Unit with sniffer dogs on a 24-hour basis at the Jomo Kenyatta in Nairobi and Moi International Airport in Mombasa to detect movements of illegal ivory. The unit has since 2009 netted more than 10 tonnes of raw and worked ivory.

The KWS has expressed fears that the scenes of the 1970s and 1980s when poaching was a serious menace, and contributed to the depletion of wildlife including elephants, lions and rhinos are back, are threatening many years of conservation efforts and animal populations that had started to balloon.

The conservationists have also decried the entry of organized crime syndicates into the illegal wildlife trade, most notably of rhino horn and elephant ivory, which they said, has created a crisis situation in many African countries.

These syndicates, they said, have employed cutting-edge technologies and sophisticated methods to poach, then illegally traffic, wildlife parts off the continent, making wildlife protection difficult, dangerous, and expensive.

The latest poaching incident saw an entire family of 12 elephants speared to death by poachers at Tsavo East National Park.

Speaking in Mombasa, Gitau said the container was to be loaded to MV Lalabahabur Shastri when official intercepted it at the container verification area of the port by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) police.

According to police and custom officials it was a fraud consignment and they were using fake KRA and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) documents upon verification.

"We are zeroing on the exporter who is engaging in the illegal poaching trade," Gitau said.

KRA announced that the same consignee of the ivory, PT Kundur Prima Karya Komp managed to traffic another consignment of ivory through the port but was later seized in Hong Kong's port last month.

The more than a tonne of ivory worth about 1.4 million dollars was a shipment from the Mombasa Port.

The shipping container contained 779 pieces of ivory weighing 1, 323 kg that arrived at Hong Kong's port from Kenya after passing through Malaysia.


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