A record breaking two tons of illegal ivory was seized this week by authorities in Kenya. The bounty was confiscated at the port of Mombasa and is the largest single ivory seizure recorded in the east African country.
Valued at an astounding $1.15 million, the ivory was reportedly labeled for shipping under the description of decorating stones. According to port officials, the haul was discovered via a tip received by the Kenya Revenue Authority and detained as it was en route from Rwanda and Tanzania to Indonesia.
A report by Reuters writes that the ivory is the product of elephant poaching, a practice that is increasing in sub-Saharan African countries. The area continues to rely on large numbers of wildlife in game reserves to attract foreign visitors.
Kiberenge Seroney, the port’s police officer in charge of criminal investigations, spoke of the record seizure:
“This is a big catch, the biggest ever single seizure of ivory at the port of Mombasa. We fail to understand where one gathers the courage to park such enormous quantities of ivory, hoping that they can slip through our security systems.”
An article by BBC News reports that authorities seized over 600 pieces of ivory, including whole tusks. Simon Gitau, a representative with the Kenya Wildlife Service, estimated that this particular discovery was comprised of ivory from the killings of at least 250 elephants.
Earlier this month Kenya suffered the single worst case of ivory poaching in the country’s recorded history. On January 5, a family of 11 elephants was brutally massacred and their tusks removed by poachers.
Experts point to Asia’s growing demand for ivory, often used in the manufacturing of ornamental decorations, as a possible cause for the upswing in poaching incidents.
As of this writing there been no conclusions as to which individuals were responsible for shipping the two tons of illegal ivory seized by Kenya officials.