By Reuben Mwambingu
A team of Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officials unlocks a 40-foot container at the Mombasa Port and a harvest of unprocessed groundnuts spills out in gushes, spreading widely on the ground. The officials are quickly joined by other staff in a random pick of a few stray groundnuts for munching but the presence of gunny sacks amid the groundnuts accompanied by a faint putrid stench is suspect. As soon as the officials start inspecting the sacks, reality slaps them in the face-giant pieces of ivory wrapped in sacks. This was the scene at the port of Mombasa recently when a container carrying 3,287.21 kilogrames of ivory destined for Malaysia was seized.
The consignment was first declared as 240 bags of groundnuts before it was discovered at the KRA cargo verification unit a short while later that some 444 pieces of ivory wrapped in gunny bags were stuffed in the middle of the groundnut bags. Use of foodstuffs now seems to be the latest method being used by masterminds in ivory trade to disguise the contrabands as they sneak the containers in and out of the country according to KRA and Kenya Wildlife Service authorities. A week before the recent seizure, another haul of ivory disguised as sun dried fish maws was intercepted at the same port. Export documents showed the consignment had entered Kenya from Uganda on June 12. The container had been exported by Bajje Investments Uganda Ltd with Giesenya Freight Logistics Ltd of Nairobi as the clearing agent, according to the documents.
KWS assistant director in charge of Coast region Arthur Tuda says suspects in the illegal trade are now using foodstuffs with a pungent smell to throw off sniffer dogs. He says the suspects started by sneaking in the ivory disguised as mazeras stone. After the trick was discovered, the suspects changed tack and started using tea bags. “In last week’s case, the ivory was first declared as fish maws before KRA officials discovered later that the container was ferrying ivory.
But as you can see in this particular case they have used groundnuts. More....