Nearly 4,600 pounds of ivory was seized by officials in Uganda. The 832 pieces are estimated to be worth more than $6 million. Authorities estimate 400 elephants were killed to fulfill the order.
The ivory was hidden inside a shipping container filled with shredded plastic. The container was marked “recyclable material.” Officials became suspicious when a truck driver suddenly changed plans for the container’s shipment.
The driver was originally hired and scheduled to haul the container from Kampala to Mombasa. At the last minute, he changed his mind. The driver said he wanted to take the container to the rail station for transport by train. When questioned about the change, he became nervous and evasive.
As reported by Wildlife News, the Uganda Revenue Service was called to investigate the situation. The driver became increasingly nervous and refused to cooperate. When asked about the container’s contents, he changed his story several times.
The officials eventually seized the container. When they looked inside, they discovered 4,600 pounds of ivory.
Authorities are now searching for the man listed on the shipment manifest. The ivory was reportedly shipped by Owino Odhiambo of Kenya. The container was destined for China. In Asia, ivory remains in high demand, as it is illegal to kill or harm elephants to obtain their tusks.
Ivory trafficking is obviously harmful to elephants. However, there are other negative repercussions. As reported by Los Angeles Times, profits gained in the illegal trade are often used to fund terrorism.
Terrorist groups often act as the middlemen. They collect orders from interested parties in Asia and the Persian Gulf and employ brokers to find willing poachers.
Al-Shabab is one of the most prolific terrorist groups in the ivory trade. The group recently claimed responsibility for the attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya.
The 4,600 pounds of ivory are worth millions. The container is currently being held by the URA as they continue their investigation.
[Image via Flickr]