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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid