Nairobi transit becomes a trap for ivory smugglers


(Posted 20th April 2016)

Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is increasingly becoming a trap location for ivory smugglers no matter the amount or kind of illicit loot they ship or carry.
On Monday night this week yet another Chinese traveler, arriving from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where wildlife protection and laws are a far cry from those in place in Kenya and the rest of East Africa, was nabbed at the airport by vigilant security staff, who carried several ivory bungles valued at about 300.000 Kenya Shillings (equivalent to about 3.000 US Dollars) in his baggage.
A similar arrest was done just days earlier when another Chinese man, enroute from Cameroon to Guangzhou, was caught with similar items worth 60.000 Kenya Shillings.
In early April, as reported here, were two more Chinese nabbed when the JKIA canine unit sniffed out their contraband stowed in checked baggage.
Last month was a shipment intercepted of several hundred kilograms of blood ivory after Kenyan officials received a tip off from their counterparts at an airport in the Far East, where a shipment was on arrival found to contain ivory, leading to the discovery of more in Nairobi which had not made it on the same flight.
It is alarming that most of those arrested and now facing trial, heavy financial fines and long jail terms, are Chinese citizens and it is clear that not nearly enough is done by the Chinese government and their embassies in Africa to warn off potential ivory buyers of the dire consequences when caught. This of course is besides China taking the blame for being responsible for the mass killings of elephant over the greed of Chinese for ivory products, which is soiling the country’s reputation over and above such other issues like human rights, Tibet and their power grab for islands claimed by other countries.
At the end of the month will Kenya publicly destroy ivory stocks of about 105 tons, setting a global signal that illegal ivory possession is no longer acceptable or a cavalier delict but has become a serious crime helping to finance criminal gang activities and even terror groups.