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Kenyan police seize one ton ivory

Friday May 6 2011

A Kenya wildlife ranger guards metal boxes containing 115 pieces of ivory weighing over 1,500 kilograms that was destined for Nigeria May 6, 2011. FREDRICK ONYANGO

A Kenya wildlife ranger guards metal boxes containing 115 pieces of ivory weighing over 1,500 kilograms that was destined for Nigeria May 6, 2011. FREDRICK ONYANGO 

By BRIAN YONGAH

Kenyan police have seized over one ton of illegal ivory destined for Nigeria at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

A total of 115 elephant tusks were impounded after sniffer dogs led police to the cargo on Thursday.

The consignment was packed in 14 steel boxes, wrapped in cartons and the ivory had been sprayed with pepper.

Security officials believe the move was meant to prevent the dogs from detecting the ivory.

According to airport security officials, the consignment was discovered in the imports section and this raised suspicion as goods meant for export are usually found in the exports section.

The consignment was labelled with an address indicating that it originated from the Embassy of the Kingdom of Brunei, an address Kenya Revenue Authority Deputy Commissioner Kennedy Onyonyi dismissed as "non- existent".

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"Investigations have concluded that the Embassy does not exist," Mr Onyonyi said.

The KRA Deputy Commissioner said they had received information from an informer at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and embarked on investigations.

“We received a tip off from an informer that a consignment had arrived at the port and State agencies began tracking the consignment and eventually found it here”, Onyonyi said.

He, however, could not establish the value of the ivory but said that state agencies had launched investigations and action would be taken against those involved.

“The consignment could weigh above 1500 kg and this amounts to about 45 elephants dead”, Onyonyi said.

No arrests have been made but the police claim to have enough evidence linking the job to people in the country or a neighbouring one.

“According to the wrappings in the ivory we believe that those involved are still in the country”, Eunice Kihiko, the Deputy Commissioner Kenya Airports Police Unit said.

She was saddened by the killing of the animals and promised that action would be taken against those involved.

Last week, a Chinese national was arrested in Nairobi with 96.5kg of ivory.

The man was apprehended at the JKIA on transit from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In early April, a consignment of elephant tusks shipped from Kenya was intercepted by authorities in Thailand.

The 247 tusks worth over $3.3 million (Sh274 million), and weighing two tonnes were disguised as frozen fish.