NAIROBI, Kenya, May 19 – Singapore has seized an illegal shipment of ivory and other exotic animal parts believed been smuggled from Kenya.
According to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority in Singapore the animal parts worth $6 million (Sh578mn) were stashed among bags of tea leaves in two 20-foot containers while transiting through the city state of Vietnam.
They discovered 1,783 pieces of raw ivory tusk hidden among the bags.
Inside the containers were also four pieces of rhino horn and 22 teeth believed to be from African cheetahs and leopards.
According to the authorities, the haul weighed 3.7 tonnes and is the largest seizure of illegal ivory in Singapore since 2002 when six tonnes of ivory were intercepted. READ: 3-tonnes of ivory from Kenya seized in Thailand.
The shipping of ivory has been banned since 1989 under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to which Singapore, a major hub for seaborne trade, is a signatory.
In April last year, local authorities intercepted a shipment of illegal ivory worth Sg$2.0 million, labelled as coffee berries, transiting from Africa, according to the statement.
A similar cargo, also from Africa, worth Sg$2.5 million was uncovered in January 2013.
Ivory ornaments are coveted in Asian countries like Vietnam, Thailand and China despite fears that the trade is pushing wild elephants to extinction.
Rhino horn is prized for its supposed medicinal properties.
Kenya has been grappling with unending wildlife crimes which have threatened the elephant and rhino population.
Despite major interventions to establish special divisions to handle the crime, the trend of poaching has been worrying.
In June this year the judiciary is set to establish the International and Organised Crimes Division of the High Court of Kenya.
Once established the division will deal with organised and trans-national crimes such as wildlife, terrorism, piracy and other crimes that have a trans-border element.