Kenya conservation news – Major shipment of blood ivory seized at Mombasa port

Over the weekend did news emerge that KWS officials, working hand in hand with customs and port security personnel, detected yet another ivory shipment destined, according to shipping documents, for Cambodia, estimated to be worth nearly 160 million Kenya Shillings. 465 tusks and ivory pieces were confiscated after the container was opened following its initial arrival by road from Nairobi at the end of November. The cargo was reportedly well packed and sealed to prevent sniffer dogs from catching a scent, but suspicions were raised when the declared cargo of soap stone carvings did not match the anticipated and declared weight, prompting the container to be held and then opened for physical inspection. Related reports also talked of KWS having tracked the container for a while before it reached the port, hoping to catch some of those responsible along the way, but no reports of any arrests was available by the time of filing this report.
The source of the ivory is also presently unknown until a detailed DNA analysis can confirm the origin of the shipment, thought to be largely from outside Kenya and smuggled into the country for onward shipment from other countries in either Eastern or Southern Africa.
2011 has been a year of record confiscations of illegal blood ivory and rhino horn, both in Africa as well as enroute to the Far East, in particular to China and Vietnam, lending credibility to claims made by the conservation fraternity that 2011 has been the deadliest and bloodiest year ever for the African elephant and the remaining rhinos. The trend has been fueled by the sharply risen demand from China for ivory carvings and rhino horn powder, said to raise an individuals prestige and standing while ground rhino horn is said to help against a number of ailments which is of course based purely on superstition and not on any medical fact. A recent meeting of the Lusaka Task Force in Dar es Salaam had agreed to strengthen supervision, monitoring and enforcement through intensified anti poaching operations and increased port and airport security, to stem the tide of commercial scale poaching which is threatening Africas wildlife and the tourism industry depending on this natural resource. Watch this space.

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