A joint operation has led to the arrest of two suspects over the seizure of 317 pieces of raw elephant ivory. The ivory was discovered on Saturday 21st August at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in the capital Nairobi. The cargo was disguised as a case of avocado fruits but was uncovered because of the way in which it had been packaged and its weight, it is thought to be the largest recovery of elephant ivory in the country for years.
The volume of ivory recovered has highlighted an on-going problem that many African law enforcers and conservationists face.
The seizures and arrests – which were carried out by the country’s Wildlife Service (KWS), and revenue authority, Lusaka Agreement Task Force, the police and the Trans-global Warehouse security personnel – are consequently a step in the right direction towards eradicating the trafficking of illegal wildlife.
According to the KWS there has been a sharp increase in poaching in the region. In ‘07, the number of illegally killed elephants stood at 47, in ‘08 at 94 while in ‘09 they stood at 204, representing a sharp increase in poaching. In ‘79 there were estimated to be 1.3 million elephants in Africa but by ‘89 only 600,000 remained. There are approximately 400,000 remaining in Africa today.
The KWS has subsequently been implementing and attempting to impose reforms in law enforcement (by enhancing training amongst law staff, ivory detectors and modernising other specialised security equipment) to reduce wildlife related crime.
All pictures credited to: The Kenya Wildlife Service