Capital FM (Nairobi)

3 July 2013

Kenya: Ivory Valued At Sh29 Million Seized in Mombasa

Photo: Sabahi Online
Kenya police net ivory at the Mombasa port which is said to be a major transit route for smugglers.

Nairobi — A container with 1,478 kilos of ivory with a street value of about Sh29 million, was on Tuesday evening intercepted in Mombasa en-route from Uganda.

The illegal consignment, which had six bags of processed ivory weighing 184.2 kg and 775 pieces of raw ivory weighing 1,294.2 kilos, was headed for Malaysia before being nabbed by officers from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and the Kenya Ports Authority.

The ivory had been stashed in 69 bundles of several pieces and had been disguised as sun dried fish maws with a pungent smell intended to throw off sniffer dogs.

Some of the bags had worked pieces of ivory while others had raw ivory.

"Export documents show that consignment entered Kenya from Uganda on June 12, 2013. It had been exported by Bajje investments Uganda Ltd with Giesenya Freight Logistics Ltd of Nairobi as the clearing agent," read a statement from KWS Corporate Communications Manager Paul Udoto.

Udoto explained that the container arrived in Mombasa about two weeks ago and had been parked at a petrol station in Jomvu, Mombasa until its entry into the port.

Kenya police have already launched investigations into the seizure with a team of detectives being deployed to hunt down the consignment's owner.

The Head of Criminal Investigation Department at the port of Mombasa, Mwera Makuri said they will contact foreigner agencies to track down the consignee.

"Export documents show that consignment entered Kenya from Uganda on June 12, 2013. It had been exported by Bajje investments Uganda Ltd with Giesenya Freight Logistics Ltd of Nairobi as the clearing agent," read a statement from KWS Corporate Communications Manager Paul Udoto.

"We will definitely speed up the investigation and apprehend key people behind this consignment to apprehend both local and foreign companies involved in this highly coordinated international syndicate of ivory trade," Makuri explained.

According to custom officials the 20 feet container was detected at the Malaba border in Western Kenya on June 12 after entries of the declaration were found to be misleading.

The KRA Commissioner in charge of port operations John Changoje said the details of the containers were circulated before it was finally caught.

Poaching remains a serious headache to Kenyans despite assurances from KWS that tough security measures have been adopted.

KWS officials have also expressed fears that poaching levels from the 1970s and 1980s, when it was a serious menace, are creeping back.

They note that the poaching rates at the time contributed to the depletion of wildlife including elephants, lions and rhinos and that the new trends are threatening many years of conservation efforts just as animal populations are once again beginning to balloon.

"We are working as a team with other agencies to monitor the smuggle of ivory and other animal trophies," said Changoje.

In January, two tonnes of ivory worth Sh86 million in transit from Tanzania to Indonesia were seized in Mombasa, a regional trade hub.

Ivory trade is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The illegal ivory trade, estimated to be worth more than Sh600 billion a year, is mostly fuelled by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns are used in traditional medicine and to make ornaments.

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