By Regina Manyara
Kenya is still a smuggling route for illegal ivory despite the measures put in place by the government to curb the vice, with large shipments of elephant tusks being shipped via Mombasa port.
Despite enhanced security at the port experts have it that trafficking is facilitated by corruption, with criminal gangs paying off police, customs officials and judges.
A cache of ivory was nabbed at the Mombasa Port.
Early this year President Uhuru Kenyatta set alight over 105 tons of ivory and nearly 1.5 tons of rhino horns, in his speech sounding a sharp warning to poachers, financiers, traders and smugglers, however the warning seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
A multi-agency team comprised of officers from KRA, National Police Service, Interpol, Kenya Wildlife Services, National Intelligence Service, among other state agencies are conducting investigations to unmask cartels behind the smuggling of a shipment of ivory that had been sneaked out of the country through the Port of Mombasa before it was recalled.
It is not yet clear how two containers which were the only ones containing contraband ivory managed to leave the Port as the remaining eight which were free from contrabands were intercepted by KRA agents.
KRA and KWS also failed to establish whether the Ivory was as a result poaching activities within the country, across the borders or whether the consignment could have been stolen from KWS stockpile.
The current state of affairs has questioned the integrity of the officials charged with curbing illegal activities at the port.
A five-year study of wildlife cases before the Kenyan courts, carried out by conservation organisation Wildlife Direct and published in 2014, found that only seven percent of those convicted of offences against elephants and rhinos actually went to jail, despite the crimes carrying a maximum 10-year sentence.
By yesterday evening, KRA and KWS officers were still in the process of extracting the ivory pieces from the timber packages and by the time of going to press, they had counted more than 40 pieces.
This comes at a time when there is increased demand for ivory especially in Asia