Weekend Ivory Seizures in Kenya/Thailand
More than 300 kilograms of ivory have been seized in two separate incidents in Kenya and Thailand since Friday.
Earlier today Thai customs officials paraded a Chinese woman and Vietnamese man at a press conference. The pair were arrested at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Saturday when an x-ray of their bags found them to contain 18 pieces of tusks and 587 ivory bracelets, weighing a combined 46 kilograms. The couple had travelled from the Ivory Coast, and were en route to Siem Riep in Cambodia.
On Friday, customs officials at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport intercepted a consignment of 260 kgs of ivory disguised in boxes as wooden carvings, but with documentation stating they were dogs in transit. Suspicions aroused, the authorities opened the boxes and found the ivory which was painted with red and black oxide to confuse airport sniffer dogs. No arrests have been made.
Friday’s bust was the second large-scale confiscation in Kenya in 10 days. On July 14th, police arrested two men with 90 kgs of ivory. They were travelling to Uganda.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare said that while it applauded any confiscation of illegal ivory, it was crucial that governments looked beyond seizures as the answer to disrupting trafficking.
“Seizures of ivory are always good news in the fight against poaching and illegal trafficking because they indicate improved levels of law enforcement, but seizures are the public face of a very tragic scenario that is killing upwards of 35,000 elephants a year and shows no sign of abating,” said Jason Bell, Director of IFAW’s Elephant Programme.
“The only way countries are going to stop poaching of elephants and illegal trade is by cooperating with agencies such as Interpol, and the law enforcement bodies of other governments to map and profile those behind this transnational criminal activity and dedicate the resources needed to reduce the capacity of those who seek profit from ivory trafficking.
“There is a great need to focus on strategies which seek to deter and halt the killing of these magnificent creatures,” he said.
As one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities, valued at US$19-billion annually, illegal wildlife trade ranks fifth globally in terms of value, behind the trafficking in drugs, people, oil and counterfeiting.
Most illegal ivory is destined for Asia, in particular China, where it has soared in value as an investment vehicle and is coveted as “white gold”. Availability of legal ivory in China purchased form the stockpile sale in southern Africa in 2008 has, in turn, boosted demand encouraging illegal ivory trade and the poaching of elephant to meet market needs.
As part of a worldwide capacity building initiative IFAW trains law enforcement officers in wildlife trafficking prevention in several countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, and the Caribbean. The organization works with Interpol’s Environmental Crime Programme, and the two have collaborated on numerous projects since 2005 including Interpol’s largest-ever illegal ivory trade operation in 2012.
The IFAW report, Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade, documents the threat the illegal trade poses to animals like elephants and rhinos, and also people.
The learn more about the illegal ivory trade, download IFAW’s digital magazine Unveiling the Ivory Trade
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.