Kenyan police seize 300 elephant tusks being packed at port city

Thu Jun 5, 2014 5:23am EDT
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Joseph Akwiri

MOMBASA Kenya (Reuters) - Kenyan authorities seized 228 whole elephant tusks and 74 others in pieces as they were being packed for export in the port city of Mombasa, police and wildlife officials said.

Poaching has surged in the last few years across sub-Saharan Africa, where gangs kill elephants and rhinos to feed Asian demand for ivory and horns for use in traditional medicines.

Wildlife authority Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officers and police confiscated the ivory in a raid at a warehouse in the port city of Mombasa, KWS said in a statement.

“The ivory was ... was being prepared for loading and export to a destination we are yet to establish," Nelson Marwa, Mombasa County commissioner, told journalists in Mombasa. "Our officers had to break into the store to access them.”

A Reuters reporter at the scene said the tusks were being packed in sacks made of nylon and sisal.

Police arrested one suspect and were searching for another who escaped, Marwa said, noting that the suspect in custody tried to bribe police officers by offering them 5 million shillings ($57,100).

Arthur Tuda, KWS officer in charge of the coastal region, said some of the ivory could have come from as far away as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“From the coloration of the tusks, we can estimate that the ivory is from different sources," he said, saying some appeared to be from elephants from Kenya's savannah and others from Congolese forests.   Continued...

 
A policeman arranges seized elephant tusks to be inspected at Makupa police station in Mombasa June 5, 2014. REUTERS/Joseph Okanga