Customs officials at Kenya’s Mombasa port made the country’s biggest ever interception of ivory yesterday. Over 2 tons of illegal ivory was intercepted on it’s way to Indonesia. The value of the ivory was estimated to be around USD1.1 million and consisted of over 630 pieces of elephant tusk.
While the interception was made in Kenya it is thought that the ivory originated from elephants in Tanzania and Rwanda.
“This is a big catch, the biggest ever single seizure of ivory at the port of Mombasa,” said Kiberenge Seroney, the port’s police officer in charge of criminal investigations. “We fail to understand where one gathers the courage to park such enormous quantities of ivory, hoping that they can slip through our security systems.”
The paperwork associated with the ivory described them as decorative stones. Officers are currently tracking the paperwork back to the original source to try and find the people behind the attempted smuggling of the ivory.
Gitau Gitau, an assistant commissioner with the Kenya Revenue Authority, said that while the documentation described the containers contents as decorative stones “… when we opened it we found elephant tusks. The ivory was originating from Rwanda and Tanzania and was to be exported to Indonesia.”
This recent interception shows again that Tanzania seems to be bearing the brunt of the current elephant poaching epidemic. The three recent biggest interceptions of illegal ivory have all related to ivory originating from elephants of Tanzania.
The two recent ivory busts in Hong Kong late last year – both multi million dollar seizures – involved smuggling from Tanzania and in October Tanzanian police raided a poaching and smuggling ring and recovered more than 1 million dollars of ivory.