News / Africa

Kenya Authorities Probing Illegal Shipments of Elephant Tusks

Wildlife authorities in Kenya are investigating reports that a large illegal shipment of elephant tusks recently discovered by customs officials in Vietnam originated in Kenya.  A Nairobi-based conservationist says elephant poaching in the east African country has reached critical levels in recent years.  

Last week, customs officials in the northern Vietnamese port city of Haiphong said that they had seized nearly two metric tons of illegal ivory on April 28.  The officials said the shipment was from Kenya destined for China.

A spokesman for Kenya Wildlife Service, Paul Udoto, tells VOA that efforts are under way to determine whether the shipment contains the tusks of Kenyan elephants.

"We want to get the export documents to determine the exact origin, after which we will also do DNA tests on the ivory to determine if indeed they came from Kenya," said Paul Udoto. "It is possible that the ivory may well have just passed through Kenya in transit."

The founder of Save the Elephants organization, Ian Douglas-Hamilton, says it is equally possible that the seized ivory came from the carcasses of illegally hunted elephants in Kenya.

"We have been monitoring the illegal killing of elephants in the north of the country and there has been a huge increase over the last few years," said Ian Douglas-Hamilton. "So, I am afraid this big seizure is a very bad indication of the direction that things are going.  And if we are not careful, we will end up with the same situation that we had for elephants in the 1970s and the 1980s, when we lost something like three-fourths of our wild elephants in that time."

International ivory trade was banned in 1989, but it has done little to curb demand largely from Asia.   

The black market price for elephant ivory is about $20 per kilogram and rising, making poaching a sought-after job among poor rural Kenyans.  Conservationists say as many as 35,000 elephants throughout the country may be at risk.

In 2008, for the first time in a decade, poachers began targeting elephants in Kenya's famed Amboseli National Park, near the border with Tanzania.  Last year, police in Kenya caught a Kenyan and a Tanzanian trying to smuggle more than 500 kilograms of tusks out of the country.

Douglas-Hamilton says increased poaching in Kenya may be related to a legal ivory auction held late last year.  In the first such auction in nine years, more than 100 metric tons of elephant tusks from southern African countries were sold to buyers in China and Japan.

"It seems that when some ivory is sold or when even some discussions take place that some ivory might be sold, the poachers and the middlemen all get excited about it and start killing elephants in other places with the hope that they can start selling the ivory," he said.

Kenya has long opposed the sale of ivory, and its rigid stance on the issue has raised tensions with its east African neighbor Tanzania.

Tanzania, along with Zambia, had lobbied the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species to allow a one-time sale of stockpiled ivory.  Both countries promised to use the profits to boost wildlife conservation.

When the convention turned down their request in March, some parliament members in Dar-es-Salaam angrily accused Kenya of spreading negative information that helped sabotage Tanzania's efforts.  

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs