, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 15 – The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is to enlist the help of Interpol for assistance in tracking down of poachers in the country.
This follows the seizure on Tuesday night of over Sh77 million worth of elephant tusks and black rhinoceros horns at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
KWS Corporate Communications Manager Ngugi Gicaga said that the consignment weighing about 300 kgs was unaccompanied at the time of its interception.
“It was a big haul of ivory because in total we had about 16 pieces of ivory in excess of 280 kilos and then we had two pieces of very fresh ivory totalling about 18 kilos,” Mr Gicaga said, adding that KWS was working closely with Interpol to bring the perpetrators to book.
He was speaking during an exclusive interview with Capital News where he termed such illegal poaching as a hazard to endangered elephant and rhino species.
“There is an upsurge in poaching. This of course spells doom because if this kind of activity continues, our elephants are very much in danger,” he warned.
Mr Gicaga further emphasised that nobody should gain any profits from the killing of such endangered species.
“This is a world heritage and no two or three people should benefit by killing wildlife,” he said. “The horns even had marks clearly indicating that the animals were shot and that they died a very painful death.”
The illegal ivory intercepted on Tuesday was hidden in coffins on a plane that made a stopover in Nairobi from Mozambique. It was bound for Thailand en-route to Laos.
Officials from Kenya’s Wildlife Service said the ivory might have come from Tanzania or South Africa.
The black rhino is found only in eastern and southern Africa.
The international ivory trade has been banned since 1989 making sale of ivory illegal if it is not from pre-1989 stockpiles.
However, some countries have done little to enforce the ban. Thousands of African elephants are killed every year to supply markets largely driven by Asian demand.
Last year the first legal ivory auction in nine years was held and more than 100 tonnes of elephant tusks were sold exclusively to Chinese and Japanese buyers who fought to outbid each other in multi-million dollar sales.
The resurrection of such auctions and the increase of Chinese workers in Africa has sparked fears about the potential impact on a species that has only recently recovered from illegal poaching.