Kenya customs nab more blood ivory


(Posted 10th July 2013)

Following the discovery of a 20 foot container originating in Uganda last week, which stuffed with ivory was waiting to be shipped to the Far East, did Kenyan authorities yesterday nab yet more, hidden in a 40 foot container due to leave for Malaysia for transit to a final destination.

A regular source from Mombasa confirmed that like in the case of the Ugandan container, police and other government agencies are seeking anyone connected to the container’s paperwork and shipping documents, to establish where the cargo came from and who was involved in soliciting the ivory, transporting it to Mombasa and financing the operation.

Like Southern Africa has been hit in recent years with a wave of rhino killings for their – medicinally speaking absolutely worthless – horns the same crime wave, and arguably triggered by the same countries in the Far East, has cost thousands of elephant their live. ‘If we are not careful, if Tanzania is not careful, we might lose the big herds of elephant forever and yet this is one of the biggest attractions for tourists. They come from all over the world to see wildlife in the natural habitat. They expect to find large numbers of game, of elephant, not just a few here and there. Once such magnetic attractions disappear, why should tourists come to visit our parks. At least you in Uganda have very few elephant poached in comparison. The Chinese government gives the death sentence to anyone who poaches a Panda but the same government does too little to stop the flow of blood ivory to their country. They simply must do a lot more or remain accused of complicity and maybe even covertly supporting the trade, because ivory carvings give prestige. Let the Chinese government come out and declare that their leadership, their ministers, have not an ounce of carved blood ivory in their own homes. Because if they don’t we know what is going on and who is behind this scourge’ added the source in a conversation yesterday when discussing this latest find in Mombasa.

KWS, customs and other security agencies deployed at the port of Mombasa have, as a result of recent finds and confiscations, stepped up their vigilance even further and cargo scanners are now used more often and on more cargo than ever before. Sniffer dogs too are deployed to seek out containers with illicit ivory cargo and shipping manifests are now used as a foundation of searches when weights do not match the records, or when suspicious loads declared as furniture, plastic waste and similar are found.

Conservationists however still feel that too little is done in Kenya too, as fines and jail terms need further attention, while magistrates should be given mandatory sentencing guidelines to prevent ivory smugglers to pay peanuts, be set free and leave the country instead of serving deterrent long sentences as a lesson towards mental rehabilitation.

Congratulations to the officers of the Kenya customs officials who discovered the loot and their colleagues who assisted in the search and seizure.

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