By Rose Athumani
A historic huge ivory haul has been intercepted at the Zanzibar harbour in a 40-foot shipping container ready for transportation to China - the main destination suspected.
Two people--a clearing and forwarding agent and a businessman - who are responsible for the consignment--were arrested in connection with the contraband of more than 1,000 pieces of elephant tusks.
Both suspects have, however, denied knowledge of the ivory which was concealed in bags full of seashells. The ivory pieces were wrapped in sacks, then stuffed in the middle of the seashells in the 100-kilo bags and arranged at the back of the container.
A Minister of State in the President's Office, Special Department (paramilitary), Mr Khaji Omari Kheri, said that everyone involved will be brought to justice. He said that the Union and the Zanzibar governments will not allow such illegal activities to take place on the Mainland or Zanzibar, otherwise all the elephants in the Mainland will be wiped out.
"Using Zanzibar as the point of departure shows that the culprits are now changing the techniques of shipping. Both governments will not allow this to happen. We will start dealing with everyone involved," Minister Kheri said. The seizure of the consignment follows a tip-off that the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Amb. Khamis Kagasheki received.
This prompted him to fly to Zanzibar where the container was seized. Amb. Kagasheki expressed appreciation for the good cooperation shown by the Zanzibar government and the Commissioner of Police, Mr Mussa Mussa, who supervised the offloading of the ivory from the 40-foot container.
Minister Kagasheki who was visibly disturbed by the number of bags containing ivory that were being offloaded from the container, said that the haul is bigger than the one seized recently at Mikocheni in Dar es Salaam. He was worried that the consignment might belong to the same people due to the mode of packaging, which is similar to the one seized in Dar es Salaam recently. More....