Police at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) have seized a cargo of ivory which had originated in Maputo, according to media reports.
The Kenyan Press have reported that the final destination of the ivory was the Thai capital, Bangkok. There were 18 pieces of raw ivory found Tuesday in luggage which had been disguised as gemstones, but on opening the luggage the police found no genuine gemstones at all.
No arrest had yet been made, and it is not known whether the smuggler is still in Kenya. Kenyan police valued the ivory at 6.4 million Kenyan shillings (about 63,000 US dollars).
The head of the airport police unit, Joseph Ngisa, said the Kenyan authorities are asking for co-operation from Mozambique to apprehend members of this smuggling ring. “We have asked the Mozambique officials to investigate the matter and take necessary action,” said Ngisa.
The inevitable question is: how did baggage packed with ivory pass through Maputo International Airport undetected? The airport is equipped with electronic scanners precisely so that illicit cargo can be detected.
The Nairobi seizure comes just a month before the planned destruction of 120 tonnes of ivory at Nairobi National Park on April 30. This will be the largest stockpile of ivory to be incinerated by any country.
The destruction of the ivory is planned to coincide with a conservation summit called by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for April 29-30.