Seized ivory shipped back to Kenya

Kenya Wildlife Service officials inspect 1.8 tonnes of ivory that was shipped back to Mombasa after being intercepted in Singapore.  [PHOTO: Kevin Odit/STANDARD]

By Philip Mwakio

KENYA: Some 1.8 tonnes of Kenyan ivory impounded overseas has been shipped back to Kenya.

This shows a historic display of global cooperation against illegal trade in banned game trophies.

Although the cargo has been traced to Kenya, it is not known who exported it.

It was seized in Singapore last December on its way to Vietnam.

According to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Assistant Director, Coast Conservation Area, Arthur Tuda, the consignment will form part of investigations into illegal ivory trade.

The name of the consignee was missing from documents in possession of investigating officers.

Singaporean port officials who impounded the cargo are expected to provide evidence when the case comes up for mention in a Kenyan court.

“This kind of investigation is a very expensive undertaking and we as a government are committed to get to the bottom of it and end poaching which is at its peak,’’ Mr Tuda told journalists at the Mombasa Port Police headquarters yesterday.

The returned ivory will be under key and lock at the heavily guarded port police as investigations continue.

The consignment that arrived in a 20-foot container aboard mv Cape Moss had initially been passed off as Mazeras stones for construction purposes and was destined for Vietnam.

“We realised that the container that left aboard mv Jan Riescher in January 2012 could be carrying illegal ivory and made an urgent appeal to the shipping line to cooperate. They obliged and made a stopover at the next port of call which was in Singapore,’’ Tuda said.

As the container was opened at the Port Police yard ten out of the 17 wooden box crates had Mazeras stones while seven containers had the real cut ivory pieces.