Kenya: Record Seizure of Ivory by Port Authorities

In the largest ivory seizure on record in Kenya, police at the port of Mombasa seized a container loaded with two tons of ivory worth over $1.15 million, NBC news reported Tuesday. 

An assistant commissioner with the Kenya Revenue Authority told NBC news that the Indonesia-bound container of ivory, which documents claimed contained “decorative stones,” originated in Rwanda and Tanzania. The growing demand for ivory in Asia, especially in Thailand and China, has led to increased poaching of elephants throughout Africa. It is a major concern for Sub-Saharan African countries, which rely heavily on safari tourism for revenue.

The seizure comes 10 days after 11 elephants were killed in the largest mass poaching event in Kenyan history, illustrating a losing battle for law enforcement against poachers in the region.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) warned in June that elephant and rhinoceros poaching has been on the rise in recent years, and that despite efforts by governments of the region to tackle the problem, it has reached the worst levels in a decade. “Enforcement efforts to stop wildlife crime must not just result in seizures – they must result in prosecutions, convictions and strong penalties to stop the flow of contraband,” CITES Secretary General John Scanlan said in the June press release. His comments highlighted the frustrating dilemma that faces law enforcement officers, who often can only act once poachers have struck and it is too late to save the animals. 

CITES also highlighted livelihood insecurity and weak law enforcement as major contributing factors to the increase in poaching, called for greater coordination in law enforcement, and suggested using modern forensic science to investigate and prosecute future poaching cases.