600 kilos of Ivory Seized – Is Kenya Culpable in Illegal Ivory Trade?
– In a span of days, more than half a tonne of ivory has been seized by customs officials in two Asian countries. Last Friday, Thai customs officials discovered 456 kg of ivory which had been hidden in crates aboard a flight from Kenya. In addition, according to media reports, Vietnam officials arrested two Vietnamese passengers who had 137 kilos of ivory earlier this week. The smugglers had transported the consignment from Angola through Kenya before heading to Asia.
IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) salutes the Thai and Vietnam customs officials for the hauls and apprehending the criminals involved, but warns that Kenya is becoming culpable in the smuggling of ivory into the illegal markets.
“Incidences of elephant poaching are on the rise in Kenya, and it is now emerging that the country is not only a source of illegal ivory, but has also become one of the smuggling route of choice for traffickers,” said James Isiche, IFAW Eastern Africa Regional Director.
These two seizures are just a fraction of the ivory trafficked out of Africa into the large illegal markets in Asia. Most contraband goes undetected.
“While Kenyan authorities have in the past done a commendable job in impounding ivory at various exit points in the country, the trend of seizures in the last one and half years is worrying. There is need and urgency for all authorities in Kenya and other elephant range states to protect elephants from poachers as well as to seal off these routes to deter criminal gangs involved in this vice,” added Isiche.
Just last week, IFAW sounded an alarm that Cape Town in South Africa may fast be becoming an ivory transit point after 46 elephant tusks were found hidden in boxes of wine destined for Hong Kong. This was the fifth ivory-related incident linked to the South African city since November 2011.
A recent report by IFAW shows that demand for ivory in China and other Asian countries is largely to blame for the rising elephant poaching in Africa.
IFAW trains law enforcement officers in wildlife trafficking prevention in several countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, and the Caribbean. More than 1,300 governmental representatives at the forefront of this struggle have been trained since 2006.
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in distress all over the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW provides hands-on assistance to animals in need, works to prevent animal cruelty, and advocates protecting wildlife and their habitats. For more information, visit our website: www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.