April 2009 – 703 kg of Ivory Seized From Vehicle  Travelling From Tanzania

April 2009 – 703 kg of Ivory Seized From Vehicle Travelling From Tanzania

Huge Ivory Seizure in Kenya, Two Men Arrested

A Kenyan and Tanzanian were arrested while travelling from Tanzania, believed to be headed to Nairobi.

This story from AWF and Reuters in 2009.  Both accused pled guilty.  To date, this is the last known conviction  in a Kenyan court for a major ivory trafficking case (seizure over 500 kg).

On Saturday 25 April (2009), two men were arrested for carrying 703 kg (1,550 lb) of elephant ivory in southern Kenya. The seizure, the biggest in recent times in Kenya, was made possible thanks to the efforts by AWF-supported game scouts.The two men were traveling by vehicle in Tanzania when they were ambushed by wildlife scouts from the Amboseli-Tsavo Game Scouts Association. The smugglers fled across the Kenyan border, where they were caught and arrested by authorities tipped off by the scouts.

The arrest was made in the town of Mbirikani, 50 km from the Kenya-Tanzania border. “Initial investigations indicated that the suspects were headed to Nairobi,” a Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) statement said.
 
The ivory, valued at an estimated 59-60 million Kenyan shillings ($750,000), has been confiscated by KWS. The men, whose identities have not been released, are being held in custody. “Charges are being prepared to charge the suspects in a Kajiado court on Monday morning,” the statement said.
 
It is unknown where the men obtained the ivory or where they were heading. DNA testing can reveal the origin of the ivory, which is believed to have come from nearly 50 elephants, mainly adult males.
According to some estimates, a kilogram of ivory can fetch as much as $35-$50 on the black market.
AWF provides the Amboseli-Tsavo Game Scouts Association with uniforms, equipment, training and office space. We applaud the successful ivory seizure made by the scouts, KWS and local authorities.
Update from Reuters: The two men pleaded guilty on Monday to illegal possession of ivory. “The haul represents unspeakable cost to our tourism industry as well as the ecosystems … This is a major setback to efforts by Kenya to recover its elephant population after it dropped from 167,000 in 1963 to the current 33,000,” a KWS statement said. The two men will be sentenced on May 4.
Note: some media is saying the seizure weighed 512 kg but in fact, a later, more accurate measure puts the ivory load at 703 kg.
 
SeeJ-AFRICA: KWS reported to the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) that the seizure was 703 kg.  The charge sheet before the court read 512 kg.  The cause of the discrepancy is unknown.
 

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