Poached ivory “disguised” as sun-dried fish has been seized in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa, officials say. The consignment of some 770 pieces, hacked out of elephants, had come from neighbouring Uganda and was destined for Malaysia, they added.
The smugglers added fish to give off “a pungent smell intended to throw off sniffer dogs”, said Kenya Wildlife Service spokesman Paul Udoto. There is a huge demand for African ivory in Asia for use in ornaments. The Kenyan government banned trade in ivory in 1989, and levels of elephant poaching subsequently declined, but there has been a rise in the illegal practice in recent years.
Mr Udoto said export documents showed that the ivory had come by vehicle from landlocked Uganda on 12 June. The vehicle was then “parked” at a petrol station in Mombasa, a regional trade hub, until the consignment was brought into the port, he added. “The ivory was stashed in 69 bundles of several pieces and had been disguised as sun-dried fish,” said Mr Udoto. “Some bags had worked polished pieces of ivory, while others had raw ivory,” he added. The value of the ivory had not yet been determined, Mr Udoto he added.
In January 2013, two tonnes of ivory worth $1m (£650,000) had been seized in Mombasa, while in transit from Tanzania to Indonesia. Kenya has recently taken a more aggressive stance against poaching as it tries to combat a surge in demand for ivory from Asia.