Intercepted blood ivory cost 50 elephant lives 11 May 2011 | By Prof.Dr.Wolfgang Thome
The shipment, which was about to be loaded was found to lack some documents, which when not forthcoming then triggered added interest from customs and security officials routinely deployed at JKIA. Undeterred by the ‘embassy origin’ of the crates, they apparently used sniffer dogs which confirmed the presence of contraband inside the sealed crates, prompting the confiscation of the cargo, and when opened revealed its bloody contents for all to see.
While the trade in ivory is banned worldwide since the late 1980’s, aimed at protecting the remaining elephant herds in Africa, more recently an upswing of demand mainly from China but also other Far and South Eastern countries, has led to a virtual skyrocketing of poaching cases in Eastern, Southern and Western Africa, of elephant and more critically even of rhinos, which horns are falsely believed to contain medicinal properties – yet known by experts that the substance of rhino horn is the same as human finger and toe nails.
Authorities in Nairobi are presently unwilling to discuss if any suspect has been arrested, but confirmed that the absence of an embassy of the country given on the shipping documents had raised their suspicion, as had indeed the intermediate destination of Lagos / Nigeria, via which main airport the cargo was arguably to reach its final destination.
Conservationists across Africa have long demanded that China take drastic action to introduce harsh legislation to prevent and outlaw ivory and rhino horn smuggling while equally asking African government to finally wake up and increase the level of fines and prison terms to such levels that it would financially ruin poachers and their middle men while putting them away for not less than 10 years and as many as 20 years, similar to prison terms for manslaughter. Congratulations once again to the Kenyan customs and security services at JKIA whose vigilance has at least intercepted the blood ivory, while of course not able to safe the elephant’s lives. Watch this space.