By Wolfgang H. Thome
News received earlier in the week confirmed a major blood ivory seizure by law enforcement officials in Kampala last weekend, when over 800 pieces were found concealed in a container ready for shipment via the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa to China. Said to be worth over 6 billion Uganda Shillings, the catch will financially pain the middlemen of the illicit trade but have cost several hundred elephant their lives. As Uganda itself has relatively low poaching numbers, suspicion is high and investigations therefore concentrate on Uganda being used as a transit country for ivory poached beyond her own borders, likely in Eastern Congo where the slaughter of wildlife continues almost unabated as a result of the regime in Kinshasa neglecting their duty under the CITES convention.
This is yet another case, several containers from Uganda were of late confiscated in Mombasa upon verification of the cargo manifests revealing smuggled contraband, where Uganda was used as a transit point and a leading Ugandan conservationist blamed corruption as a major cause for this “very unfortunate turn of events that Uganda should be used as a smuggling route simply because some of our officials can be bought cheaply.”
Police in Uganda are now looking for a Kenyan by the names of Odhiambo Owino who allegedly was named in the shipment documents as the owner of the cargo to help with the investigation while the driver of the truck carrying the container is already in custody according to a source from Kampala. This latest find reinforced calls by the conservation fraternity for the Chinese government to finally shed their intransigence and begin to treat the growing illegal ivory trade into China as a major crime with the same source saying in a clear fit or rage: “They are very ruthless when it comes to dealing with anyone poaching their Pandas but when it comes to tens of thousands of African elephant, they show no concern at all. This is not just bad practice, this is a form of complete racist attitude towards our continent and our wildlife resources. More....