CHINESE NABBED AT ENTEBBE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT WITH IVORY
East African airports are getting seemingly ‘too hot’ for ivory smugglers, as another Chinese citizen attempting to leave from Entebbe for his home country had to find out to his lasting regret.
Bungles and chop sticks made of ivory, weighing a total of 1 KG, little in comparison to recent seizures in Nairobi, were found in his baggage when he was trying to check in as customs and airport security, besides looking for terror suspects and narcotics are now also keenly looking out for other contraband like blood ivory and game trophies. The Chinese man was remanded in custody awaiting trial while a staff of airport security, according to other reports, was also arrested alongside him for demanding a bribe ‘to let him go’, before being arrested too by his watchful colleagues and supervisors, who had reportedly monitored the ‘exchange’ on CCTV.
To many observers of the conservation scene it did not come as a surprise that yet another Chinese was found to smuggle ivory out of Africa, as they now make up the majority of such cases, attributed to the growing number of Chinese citizens in Africa and their blatant disregard, if not contempt for conservation measures, laws and regulations. In fact, the global conservation fraternity now sees China as the key country fueling poaching in Africa, as their domestic demand for ivory carvings seem insatiable and their government stands by seeing Africa’s wildlife being depleted while publicly professing friendship to Africa.
It is understood from well placed sources linked to aviation security and safety that concerted efforts are underway in Eastern Africa to give baggage checked in for destinations in China, no matter on which airline passengers travel, ‘priority status’ as far as extra checks are concerned and Chinese travelers in particular should brace themselves for extensive checks of their hand luggage as well as checked baggage courtesy of their criminal countrymen and countrywomen. Transit baggage checked through to a final destination in China or elsewhere in the Far and South East is now also being given ‘extra treatment’ with sniffer dogs being deployed able to detect not only narcotics but also the scent of blood ivory, rhino horn and other game trophies.
Well done to the Entebbe security team and let the message go out widely that wannabe ivory smugglers should not travel via East Africa’s airport as they will surely be caught, arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.