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Elephant tusks impounded at Kenya's Mombasa port

Ivory products at a store in Guangzhou. While most countries enforce the ban on ivory, China and Japan have been permitted to buy non-poached ivory from Africa. Photo/REUTERS
Ivory products at a store in Guangzhou. On Wednesday 30 elephant tusks of undetermined value were impounded at the port of Mombasa en route Hong Kong. While most countries enforce the ban on ivory, China and Japan have been permitted to buy non-poached ivory from Africa. Photo/REUTERS 

Thirty elephant tusks of undetermined value were impounded at the port of Mombasa en route Hong Kong on Wednesday evening.

The consignment weighing 274.4 kilograms was intercepted by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officials during their normal inspection at the port.

According to deputy commissioner in charge of customs in the southern region, Ms Rose Gichira, the consignment was stuffed in a 40-foot container covered with bales of buttons and clothes.

Ms Gichira said they became suspicious after the clearing agent became reluctant in giving information about the cargo being exported.

“We decided to screen the shipment since it was loaded in the absence of our export officers which is against our regulation and we found the tusks in boxes and sacks inside the container,” she said.

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The customs official said the consignment has been secured waiting for further investigation.

Coast police boss Aggrey Adoli said they had launched investigations to determine the origin of the tusks.

He said they would question the clearing agent to unearth the syndicate behind the illegal trade.

“We have arrested one clearing and forwarding agent who is leading us in the investigation. We are also working closely with customs to ensure the exporter is arrested and taken to court,” said Mr Adoli.

According sources within the KRA, the cargo was being exported by Tianjin You Cheng Freight Agency while the importing Company was quoted as Sheng Nongzi Company.

Mr Simon Gitau, Kenya Wildlife Service deputy director said some two tusks were later found in the sack already processed into ornaments and table decorations.

“In the boxes, we recovered 30 pieces of elephant tusks but after intensive inspection, we recovered two others which have been processed,” said Mr Gitau.

This comes a few months after President Kibaki set ablaze nearly five tonnes of contraband ivory worth millions of shillings.
The President led representatives of regional governments in burning the ivory at the Kenya Wildlife Service Training School in Manyani, Taita Taveta.

In the recent past, Kenya Ports Authority has been on the spot light for allegedly allowing counterfeit good to be transported through the terminal.

One month ago, two containers of ball pens worth more than Sh10 million were intercepted by the counterfeit agency officers and the Kenya Revenue Authority officials who were inspecting imports at the Port.

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