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Kenya Revenue Authority probe port officials over ivory smuggling | Coastweek

MOMBASA (Xinhua) -- Illegal ivory haul displayed in Mombasa. Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) have seized ivory worth millions of Kenyan shillings concealed in two containers at the Port of Mombasa. KRA Commissioner David Yego told journalists in Mombasa that the ivory pieces were hidden in wooden logs destined for Colombia. XINHUA PHOTO - MBUYU CAZEIYA

Kenya Revenue Authority probe port officials over ivory smuggling

MOMBASA (Xinhua) -- Kenyan authorities have said that they are investigating Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officials over latest seizure of ivory worth 1.97 million U.S. dollars.

A multiagency team has launched a probe to apprehend custom officials and clearing agents who might have colluded to sneak out the two containers in October.

KRA Commissioner Rashid Ali told journalists that the two containers had a total of 334 pieces of ivory, weighing 1.09 tonnes, stashed in wooden logs destined for Colombia.

"We have launched investigation with hope of arresting the mastermind of ivory at the port.

"It’s very clear that our officials might have colluded with poachers to sneak out the containers," Ali said.

The containers were intercepted in Singapore and reshipped back to the country.

"It’s a sad day to see that quite a number of animals are killed and transported.

"It’s a wipeout of number of elephants.

"We are going to continue to fight this menace," said KRA Commissioner David Yego.

Sources indicate that the same clearing agent was behind the smuggling of 12 ivory-concealing containers that were seized in Vietnam early November after also being spirited away from the port of Mombasa.

Conservationists say poaching has destroyed large numbers of African elephants, prompting experts to warn the species could be wiped out within decades.
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EARLIER REPORT:

Kenya Revenue Authority officials seize ivory destined for Colombia

MOMBASA (Xinhua) -- Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) have seized ivory worth millions of Kenyan shillings concealed in two containers at the Port of Mombasa.

KRA Commissioner David Yego told journalists in Mombasa that the ivory pieces were hidden in wooden logs destined for Colombia.

Yego said the two containers were part of ten containers that were disguised and declared to contain teak logs (timber) last month.

"We had intelligence information and intercepted eight export containers, but the other two had already left the port.

"We contacted shipping and other agencies and managed to intercept the two," he said.

The two containers were later intercepted in Singapore en-route to Colombia and reshipped back to the country where the ivory was discovered after verification by a multi-agency team at the port.

Yego said it had contacted different agents including Interpol that assisted in tracking the two twenty-feet containers after they managed to be sneaked out of the port of Mombasa.

The team has launched investigation to apprehend more suspects believed to be mastermind of ivory trade at the port of Mombasa.

According to port documents, the two containers have 424 pieces of teak beams.

KRA said the two containers will be subjected to full verification and weighing the ivory before they can release the final report to the media.

Sources indicate that the same clearing agent was behind smuggling 12 ivory-concealing containers that were seized in Vietnam early November after they were also sneaked from the port of Mombasa.

The ivory had been hidden in hollowed-out logs and blocks of timber that were sealed.

The containers, with one tonne of ivory, were intercepted by Vietnamese authorities at the Cat Lai Port in the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City.

According to authorities, the ivory seized last month was destined for Cambodia through Vietnam.

The port of Mombasa is linked in smuggling of ivory, drugs and other contrabands where port authorities reportedly collude with dealers after being bribed.
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UPDATES:

Cambodia seized ivory, wild animal bones, pangolin scales over weekend

PHNOM PENH Cambodia (Xinhua) -- Cambodia on Wednesday released the details of the haul of elephant tusks, wild animal bones and pangolin scales found at a dry port on the western outskirts of Phnom Penh on Saturday.

According to a customs report on Wednesday, the animal parts found at the Royal Railway Phnom Penh dry port totalled 1.58 tons, including 640 pieces of ivory weighed 1.36 tons, 82 kg of wild animal bones, 137 kg of pangolin scales and 4.9 kg of elephant tails.

Un Vannarith, deputy chief of the Phnom Penh Forestry Administration cantonment, said Monday that the animal parts were stuffed inside the logs which were shipped from the southern African nation of Mozambique.

He said the raid was made following a tip-off from the NGO Regional Intelligence Liaison Office of the World Customs Organization.

The intended destination of the haul was unknown as an investigation was underway to find out the smugglers, he added.

In August, some 613 kg of elephant tusks shipped from Africa were found concealed inside a corn container at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port in southwest Cambodia’s Preah Sihanouk province.
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Cambodia seizes elephant tusks, tiger bones, pangolin scales at dry port

PHNOM PENH Cambodia (Xinhua) -- A haul of elephant ivory, tiger bones and pangolin scales was found at a dry port on the western outskirts of Phnom Penh on Saturday in hollowed-out logs imported from Africa, a senior official confirmed on Monday.

Un Vannarith, deputy chief of the Phnom Penh Forestry Administration cantonment, said the animal parts, weighed about one ton, were discovered at the Royal Railway Phnom Penh dry port hidden inside three pieces of timber.

"We have found elephant tusks, elephant tails, tiger bones and pangolin scales stuffed inside three logs which were imported from the southern African nation of Mozambique," he told Xinhua, adding that the raid was made following a tip-off from the NGO Regional Intelligence Liaison Office of the World Customs Organization.

He said the intended destination of the haul was unknown as an investigation was underway to find out the smugglers.

In August, some 613 kg of elephant tusks shipped from Africa were found concealed inside a corn container at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port in southwestern Cambodia’s Preah Sihanouk province.
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EARLIER REPORT:

South Sudan needs wildlife crimes court amid illegal ivory trade: official

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan needs to establish a special court to try wildlife crimes against a backdrop of increased illegal ivory trade, an official said on Thursday.

Tourism and Wildlife Conservation Minister, Jema Nunu Kumba, said South Sudan has registered an increase in ivory trafficking by networks of organized criminals.

Kumba said authorities seized at least two tonnes of ivory since July, adding that a special court is needed to try wildlife crimes suspects.

"Because of regular violation of wildlife laws, we request the ministry of justice to look at establishing special courts for wildlife crimes to facilitate the smooth implementation of wildlife protection," she said in the capital Juba as South Sudan officially joined the African-led conservation program, the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI).

Kumba said the signing the protocol will strengthen elephant conservation efforts by discouraging poaching and cultural practices that promote use of elephant products.

South Sudan’s elephant population has declined from 80,000 in the 1970s to less than 3,000, according to data from the tourism ministry.

The decline is blamed on poaching, a lack of strong wildlife laws as well as animal migration caused by years of civil war.

Abert Schenk, head of the conservation group, Wildlife Conservation Society, called on the government to commit itself to implementing the EPI in order to save the country’s elephants.

"Signing up alone will not save the African elephant in this country, but if we manage to translate this signing into concrete joint conservation actions on the ground," Schenk said.

Launched in February 2014 by leaders from Botswana, Chad, Ethiopia, Gabon and Tanzania, the membership of the EPI group has since grown to 14 countries—tasked with a goal to protect at least 40,000 elephants by 2020.

             

 

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