, NAIROBI, Jan 28 – Four Chinese men appeared in a Kenyan court on Monday charged with smuggling ivory, a judicial official said.
The men were arrested on Sunday carrying ivory products, including 40 chopsticks, six necklaces, bracelets and a pen holder, as well as two pieces of raw ivory weighing 9.6 kilogrammes (about 20 lbs).
Their court hearing was adjourned until Tuesday as they did not have an interpreter, the court official said.
The four were arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi as they transited from Lubumbashi in Democratic Republic of Congo en route to China’s Guangzhou airport.
In a separate incident, three Chinese nationals and a Kenyan were charged on Monday with smuggling a dead cobra from a Kenyan national park.
They pleaded not guilty and were released on bail.
Earlier this month officials in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa seized more than two tonnes of ivory, which had reportedly come from Tanzania and was destined for Indonesia.
The international trade in elephant ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after elephant populations in Africa dropped from millions in the mid-20th century to some 600,000 by the end of the 1980s.
Ivory trade is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
East African nations have recently recorded an increase in poaching incidents.
The illegal ivory trade is mostly fuelled by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns are used to make ornaments and in traditional medicines.
Africa is home to an estimated 472,000 elephants, whose survival is threatened by poaching and the illegal trade in game trophies, as well as a rising human population that is causing habitat loss.