Kenyan police seize 300 elephant tusks being packed at port city
Mombasa - XINHUA
Kenyan police on Thursday impounded 228 full ivory tusks and 74 cut pieces of tusks weighing over three tons at a warehouse in the coastal city of Mombasa, said Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) deputy spokesman Paul Muya.
Mombasa county commissioner Nelson Marwa told journalists in Mombasa that the consignment was seized in the wee hours of Thursday at a warehouse awaiting shipment through the port of Mombasa.
"This is a major breakthrough on war against poaching. We are investigating and hunting for more suspects behind this syndicate, " Marwa said.
Marwa said the ivory pieces are believed to be part of latest smuggling ivory in the country.
Mombasa police chief Geoffrey Mayek said they are interrogating one suspect, identified as Sadiq Abdul Alim, a Kenyan manager working at the yard.
"The police and Kenya Wildlife Service officers have launched investigations to establish the source of the ivory and its owners, " Mayek told Xinhua in Mombasa.
He said police believe the ivory proceeds are being used to finance radicalization and terrorism activities in the coastal region.
KWS director coast region Arthur Tuda said they suspected the ivory was hacked from more than 100 elephants from Tsavo National Park and other neighboring national parks.
"From the colorization and sizes of ivory its clear most of the elephants are from Tanzania and Congo. They were waiting to be shipped out of the country. It's a recommendable job," Tuda said.
The seizure of illegal ivory from Kenya continues despite KWS introducing the canine unit with sniffer dogs on a 24-hour basis at the Jomo Kenyatta in Nairobi and Moi International Airport in Mombasa to detect movements of illegal ivory.
The unit has since 2009 netted more than eight tons of raw and worked ivory.
This, according to the wildlife agency, has effectively led to reduced smuggling of illegal trophies. Plans are at an advanced stage by KWS to also introduce sniffer dogs at the Eldoret International Airport as well as other exit and entry points.
The elephant horns are sawn off and ground into a powder which is taken as a curative in most countries in Asia, despite no scientific evidence of medicinal properties.
KWS says the poaching situation calls for a united approach that will not only facilitate the capture of those involved in wildlife crime, but also enhance prosecution of the illegal killing and trafficking of wildlife.
Wildlife crime and related illegal trade is now globally ranked as one of the most serious international crimes.
Recent reports from wildlife conservationists indicated that proceeds of wildlife crime are also used to finance other international crimes including proliferation of illegal firearms, human trafficking and terrorism cartels of which no country or agency can single-handedly manage.
Kenya's tourism industry depends on its wildlife resources and beach destinations and conservationists have blamed the continued poaching on the ready markets for the criminal networks that harvest the merchandise.