You are currently viewing #9. CF 2305/2011 – 2160 kg Ivory Seizure Jomo Kenyatta International Airport

#9. CF 2305/2011 – 2160 kg Ivory Seizure Jomo Kenyatta International Airport

August 21st, 2010 - 317 ivory tusks and 5 rhino horn found in JKIA cargo area awaiting airfreight to Malaysia

Kenneth Kamau Maina was charged and acquitted.  Four years later he charged again relating to a 784 kg ivory seizure (CF 1673/2014).  It is not confirmed if the case was withdrawn or he was acquitted. His Guinean co-accused was deported mid-trial. 


  • On August 21, 2010, various policing agencies seized at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, 2160 kg of ivory.  It was packed in 12 wooden boxes and destined for Malaysia as air freight.
  • To this day, it is believed to have been the largest ‘air freight’ ivory seizure ever.
  • Kenneth Kamau Maina was charged and acquitted 1n 2016, (see more below) “I find the prosecutor’s case to having not been fully proved beyond threshold of reasonable doubt, declare accused not guilty.”
  • This seizure was initially reported in media as over 2 tonnes, and to the ETIS (elephant trade information system) as 2160 kg but the charge sheet read 1332 kg.
  • DNA analysis indicated the origins of the ivory having come from a wide swath beginning in north Mozambique stretching into south and central Kenya.
From "Genetic Assignment of Large Seizures of Elephant Ivory Reveals's Africa's Major Poaching Hotspots" Wasser et al 2015

Two held as KWS seizes ivory cargo at Nairobi airport

Police are holding two people who were arrested at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at the weekend with two tonnes of elephant tusks and five rhino horns.
The two Kenyans were intercepted as they prepared to ferry the consignment to Malaysia.
Dogs from the Kenya Wildlife Service JKIA Canine Unit unearthed the trophies that were marked as avocado, complete with fruits to disguise.
They were packed in 12 wooden boxes, whose weight and packaging drew the curiosity of warehouse security officials who alerted the unit that set the dogs upon the goods.
KWS director Julius Kipngetich said that the 312 pieces of tusks and horns could have been collected over a period of up to 20 years, since they were of different ages.
“Some are pretty old; others as recent as six months old,” Dr Kipngetich told a press conference held at the Nairobi National Park, a few metres from the site where former president Daniel Moi torched 12 tonnes of ivory over two decades ago.
During Monday’s function, KWS paraded the seized trophies, some of which had cut edges indicating that they could have been poached, while others could have been pulled from dead, rotting animals.
He, however stated that the trophies, which had transmitters, indicating that they were tagged, were not part of government stocks stashed away in stores since they did not have the indelible ink that characterise them.
The latest seizure, the largest in recent times, follows interception of consignments of animal trophies from the country that were destined for Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong.
Direct flights on the Middle and Far East routes, the KWS boss said, makes Kenya a preferred gateway for the poachers.
The fact that the consignment was meant to be transported by air, an expensive undertaking, indicated that a cartel could be behind the activity.
Since the destruction of ivory in 1989, the government has been piling up all the ivory seized over the years in stores managed by KWS.
Dr Kipngetich said that the incident did not indicate failure on the part of the organisation, since it is its security apparatus that intercepted the consignment.


  • The case on Kamau was based on an unidentified male, who provided to airport security, ID in the name of Kenneth Kamau, making a delivery of the wooden boxes (found to contain ivory) to the airport.  A second witness observed 5 men loading the 12 boxes but could not identify any.  The police ‘Investigating Officer’ presented the evidence.
  • Kamau presented evidence through two friends who were with him at another location on the day of the delivery and accompanied him to a police station to report his ID stolen. (one has to wonder as to his alibi 4 years later when found with 784 kg of ivory.)
  • It is believed that a second male, Wycliffe Atseste, was also charged but prosecuted separately for reasons unknown.  It cannot be confirmed whether he was acquitted or the case was withdrawn.

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