A Hong Kong bound container with 87 elephant tusks was seized over the weekend in Nairobi, when alert customs and security officials opened the container for a physical spot check, after various inconsistencies rang the alarm bells and raised suspicion of illicit contraband being hidden amongst the consignment of handicraft for importers in China. The entire container was subsequently scanned before being opened, at which stage the blood ivory was discovered hidden amongst other export items in the various crates.
Chinas reluctance in joining Africa to combat poaching with more draconian measures has been largely blamed for the rocketing rise in poaching across the continent, with rhino horn and ivory the main targets of poachers, costing South Africa alone over 300 rhinos this year, with one reportedly being killed ever 21 hours for the prized, but otherwise useless horn. Importers attribute healing properties to the ground horn, but experts say it would just be as good if the beneficiaries of such concoctions would bit off and eat their own finger nails, which is made of the very same substance as rhino horn.
African wildlife managers, conservationists and globally active NGOs have sharply critizised African governments too of dragging their feet in significantly raising the stakes in terms of fines and sentences for poachers and smugglers, and while making every effort within the resources available, seem to be fighting a losing battle against organized commercial poaching and smuggling operations.
Meanwhile though full kudos to the Kenyan officials who intercepted this latest shipment of blood ivory, while mourning the loss of at least another 44 elephant.