EQUAL TO 1,000 ELEPHANTS

10 tonnes of ivory smuggled through Mombasa annually — Balala

Port is considered a transit point for ivory from Uganda, DRC, Tanzania and Mozambique

In Summary

• In 2012, Balala said, 39 per cent of the illegal ivory business passed through the port of Mombasa but this has since gone down to 17 per cent.

• He said that the 17 per cent is still a very bigger percentage of African elephants.

About 10 tonnes of ivory is smuggled annually from East and Central Africa through the Mombasa port, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has said.

Balala said the 10 tonnes of ivory, smuggled to Asian countries, is equal to 1,000 elephants poached in the region.

“We do not mean that those are Kenyan elephants, but the port of Mombasa is being used as a transit route for elephant tusks from Africa to Asian countries,” Balala said.

 

Balala spoke to journalists on Wednesday when he met port stakeholders at a forum organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Mombasa.

The meeting discussed countering illegal wildlife trade through the port, curbing drugs and tax evasion.

In 2012, Balala said, 39 per cent of the illegal ivory business passed through the port of Mombasa but this has since gone down to 17 per cent.

He said that the 17 per cent is still a very bigger percentage of African elephants.

“Despite the numbers of elephant poachers going down, Mombasa still is being considered to be a transit port for ivory from Uganda, DRC, Tanzania and Mozambique,” Balala said.

The Tourism CS said the problem is that most of the exports are not being subjected to a thorough screening like imports at the port of Mombasa and other border points.

“We have seen that thorough screening [of cargo] is done for goods coming into the country, rather than of goods leaving the country,” Balala said.

He urged the United Nations to support the Kenyan government to develop technology that can to detect illegal ivory for export. 

He also asked the UN  to help in the training of border post personnel to enhance surveillance efforts. 

“The kind of screening that we have at the port of Mombasa should be replicated at the ICD Nairobi, Eldoret, Kisumu port, Lamu port, and Shimoni port,” Balala said.

He said that if a thorough screening of cargo is done only at the port of Mombasa, then the other smaller ports and exit border points will be used to smuggle ivory and drugs.

Balala said the Kenyan government is directly spending Sh400 million on the anti-poaching programme.

“However, the total budget to protect wildlife in Kenya is in excess of Sh2 billion annually,” Balala.

(edited by O. Owino)