Date Published: 01 Oct, 2009
KWS law enforcement officers in liaison with Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Lusaka Task Force and Airport Police impounded 532kg of 61 whole tusks of raw ivory on September 29, 2009 at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. En-route to Bangkok, Thailand via Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the ivory was found in a Kenya Airways warehouse following another illegal cache seized by Ethiopian authorities on Sunday 27, 2009 at Addis Ababa by the same consignee.
Kenya has lost 125 elephants this year alone, with the drought accounting for the death of up to 70 jumbos. The numbers are up from 98 of elephants lost last year and 48 in the previous year.
Expressing concern over the increased elephant ivory poaching, KWS Director Mr. Julius Kipng'etich said there were plans to recruit more security forces to expand KWS surveillance cover and improve border security. “It is this percentage increase that is alarming because biased target on one species affects other critically endangered species.” He said.
Poaching of ivory has been on the rise across the continent since the partial lifting of the international ivory trade in 2007 to allow the one-off sale to Japan and China by South African countries - Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. South Africa lost 135 rhinos last year alone. Kenya’s vulnerability to ivory poaching has partly been aided by the porous Kenya borders and its consequent small arms problem caused by the political instability of countries. According to the KWS Director, this is a sensitive situation which requires an international solution.
“There are over 1.2 million small arms within the greater Lakes region, most of which trickle into Kenya” Mr. Kipng’etich said. “This is not a sole Kenyan or KWS affair.”
Kenya remains opposed to lifting of the international ivory trade ban, particularly the 9-year ivory trade moratorium that was linked to the one off- sale.
The Director said Kenya and her allies will be pushing for the enforcement of a total international ivory ban in the next meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties that will be held in Doha, Qatar in March 2010.