Sniffer Dogs Uncover Illegal Ivory at Kenyan Airport

On Friday 10th December, two Singapore nationals were arrested in possession of 92kg of ivory at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya.  

Having entered Kenya two days earlier from Malawi, the two were detained while attempting to board a flight to Bangkok, Thailand.  Contained in four suitcases, the ivory was uncovered by sniffer dogs from the Kenya Wildlife Service Canine Unit, based at the airport. 

The origin of the seized ivory is as yet unknown – it could be from elephants poached in Malawi, Kenya, a mixture of both or another country entirely.  Since 1980, when Malawi’s elephant population was estimated at 4,500, numbers have declined steadily, with the last report in 2007 placing the country’s total population at just 185 elephants.  Although since the mid 1990s Kenya’s elephants have fared better and their populations have increased, the incidence of elephant poaching since the 2007 approval of a legal sale of 108 tons of ivory by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) has also escalated.  

Thailand is a recognised transit point for ivory from poached African elephants on its way to end markets in the Far East, notably China.  In September this year, a Malaysian national en route from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was intercepted at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok with 4 suitcases containing 16 pieces of cut ivory weighing 90kg.  Altogether this year so far, Thai customs at the Bangkok airport have seized 4,320kg of ivory, equivalent to 657 dead elephants.

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