Ivory bound for Egypt seized in South Sudan


World Bulletin / News Desk

Date Published
Authorities Tuesday seized a half-ton of smuggled ivory at the international airport in Juba, the capital of the conflict-ridden country of South Sudan in the Greater Horn of Africa region.
The shipment was smuggled from an unspecified neighboring country using Ethiopia Airlines and was bound for Cairo via EgyptAir, Brig. Gen. Khamis Adieng, a spokesperson for the Wildlife Ministry’s National Wildlife Service, said Wednesday.

The plane had arrived from Kenya.

The seizure came barely six months after wildlife officials burned five tons of ivory in South Juba on World Environment Day to show the government’s commitment to fight poaching across the country. The destroyed ivory had been confiscated from poachers or traffickers since 2011, according the Wildlife Ministry.

Adieng said the ivory had been wrapped in sponge which made it difficult to detect but sniffer dogs and machines at the airport allowed officials to uncover it.

The seized ivory was possibly years old and bears marks which show that it was being smuggled from other countries to South Sudan, he added.

He said the government believes the traffickers work as a network with collaborators in various countries. He said South Sudanese wildlife authorities are working with neighboring countries and the airlines to end the trafficking.  

“I think it is a network, and we cannot determine now but there are people in Nairobi, Addis Ababa, and Entebbe of course and some people are here,” said Ding.

Investigations are ongoing. The police have arrested and detained suspected traffickers and the ministry is working to apprehend their accomplices, he added.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and 2.4 million other have fled their homes since South Sudan’s war began in December 2013.

America-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has previously warned of the conflict’s tragic impact on wildlife and said fighting threatens to push elephants ever-closer to national extinction after more than 500 elephants were gunned down during almost four years of civil war in the country.