Uganda seizes blood ivory in transit


(Posted 05th June 2015)

News are emerging from Entebbe International Airport that a consignment of blood ivory was seized at the very last moment before being loaded on an aircraft. The contraband was reportedly destined for Singapore where only weeks ago nearly 3.7 tons of blood ivory shipped from Kenya was confiscated by vigilant customs officers.

From information received it appears that at least five airport security and handling staff are in custody at the Entebbe aviation police station, awaiting processing and formal charges, for the alleged complicity in concealing the contents of the six boxes. It is an open secret that traders in blood ivory are paying handsome bribes, often worth a year’s salaries or more, for officials to look the other way but in this case did honest cops prevent the shipment from leaving. Ugandan police and other security officials are looking for more suspects in connection with this ivory haul.

Other sources suggested that the blood ivory was brought into Uganda from very likely Eastern Congo or South Sudan, both conflict riddled parts of Africa where poaching is rife to finance the purchase of weapons, ammunition and supplies for militias and terror groups but in the case of South Sudan also both sides of the civil war. It is understood that samples of the ivory will be sent to the recently launched forensic laboratory at the Kenya Wildlife Services headquarters for detailed analysis to determine the origin of the tusks. The new lab, the launch reported here a few weeks ago, now serves not only Kenya but the wider region in providing forensic DNA evidence on ivory, rhino horn and other prohibited wildlife trophies and bones.

In a related development was it also confirmed that police and security organs in Mombasa arrested three suspects in the posh Nyali estate on the northern mainland in connection with the 3.7 tons of ivory nabbed in Singapore which was valued at nearly 60 million US Dollars and has been described as one of the largest hauls ever seized. The blood ivory was hidden in tea containers and there have been suggestions that the scanners had been tampered with to make sure that several containers with ivory hidden among the tea could pass undetected. Even at the port have arrests been made but no immediate progress on the pending cases could be ascertained.

Congratulations are certainly in order though for the Ugandan aviation police which has in recent months recorded several successes, making Entebbe an airport which smugglers best avoid and give a wide berth.

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