Ugandan wildlife authorities have pleaded with Asian countries to prevent the trade of illegal ivory, after a series of shipments destined for the continent were discovered by airport customs.
On Jul 14, 912 kgs of ivory in 48 boxes were impounded by officials after being located at Entebbe International Airport, onboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight bound for Singapore.
The contraband, worth US$2.3 m was seized by aviation police at the country’s aviation police, who said suspicions were raised by a the shipment’s lack of proper documents
”The consignment didn’t have documents, it had no declaration form, and there was no airway bill. What was on those boxes was just a sticker reflecting the airway bill number,” said Lodovick Awita from Uganda Aviation Police.
In a related case last month, more than 600kgs of ivory were seized at the same airport, a consignment also destined for Singapore.
Ugandan authorities said they are becoming increasingly concerned about the market for illegal wildlife trade. They want to team up with Asian countries, the likely final destination for most African ivory, to pursue the criminals.
“I appeal to our colleagues in the Asian countries particularly the ASEAN-WEN to put in more effort. They’ve been working with us but they need to put in more effort to ensure that whenever things leave this country, if we do not get them they should arrest them, and we do a joint investigation,” Margaret Kasumba from Uganda Wildlife Authority said.
A recent report released in Kenya by Save The Elephants, a conservation non-government organisation found Hong Kong’s ivory market is helping push African elephants towards extinction. More than 100,000 elephants were killed between 2010 and 2013
While Uganda has been a success story in fighting elephant poaching, especially through increased patrols, in neighboring countries like Kenya and DR Congo, the population for the giant mammals is reducing at the hands of lethal poachers.
According to Ms Kasumba, Uganda is mainly used as a conduit. “As we plan, these illegal wildlife guys are also planning, so we need to heighten up to make sure that they don’t bypass us,” she said.