6 June 2014

Kenya: Police Seize 200 Elephant Tusks in Mombasa

Police in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa have seized more than 200 pieces of ivory at a warehouse in the Tudor area of the city.

The ivory is believed to have originated from elephants poached at various parks in the country and also from neighbouring countries.

Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa said that a tip off from a member of the public led them to where the ivory was stashed.

Marwa and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officials said they received a tip-off over the batch and on raiding the premises they impounded 74 small tusks estimated to be five kilogrammes each.

"The ivory was being prepared for loading and export to a destination we are yet to establish," Marwa told journalists in Mombasa. "Our officers had to break into the store to access them."

Assistant director for conservancy for Coast Region Arthur Tuda said the ivory seized indicated that an estimated 100 elephants were killed, noting that they were from various parks within Kenya and from outside the country.

Marwa said they have arrested a suspect, Abdul Halim Sadik, 25, from Lamu County in connection with the ivory haul and a manhunt launched for two other suspects still at large. He said the consignment is linked to terrorism, radicalization and drug barons in Mombasa.

Poaching has surged in the last few years across sub-Saharan Africa, where gangs kill elephants and rhinos to feed Asian demand for ivory and horns for use in traditional medicines.

Kenya Wildlife Service numbers place Kenya's elephant population at 38 000. The country has only 1 039 rhinos alive today, with numbers dwindling owing to poaching.

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