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Ivory container that never was at the Mombasa Port
Date Published: 19 Apr, 2012
KWS officer holds samples of Ankole cattle horns that were found in unclaimed container at the Port of Mombasa.
A 40-foot container reported in the media as having been intercepted with contraband ivory at the Port of Mombasa a fortnight ago actually contained Ankole cattle horns.
The finding of the cattle horns follows an independent verification by a joint team comprising Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Port Police (Criminal Investigation Department) and journalists based in Mombasa.
Kenya Revenue Authority official discovered the unclaimed container on April 4, 2012 during a routine verification exercise before auction.
The container was to be auctioned for overstaying at the port following a recent Transport ministry directive on such unclaimed and overstayed cargo.
Following three previous successful seizures of illegal ivory at the port of Mombasa in the last few months, KRA officials immediately sealed the container and alerted KWS about the discovery as per procedure when they come across any suspicious cargo which they cannot competently verify.
The container seal number was confirmed as 3682928 by KRA, KWS and KPA before transferring to the Customs house to await verification.
The verification was done on April 11, 2012.
The delay in verification was occasioned by the long Easter holidays and the huge amount of unclaimed cargo that was to be inspected and disposed off first by KRA and KPA.
This is contrary to false media reports that the delay was intended to obscure the truth about the contents of the container.
The verification was done in the presence of KWS, Port Police (Criminal Investigation Department), KPA and the Press.
Upon verification it was confirmed by KWS that the content of the container was not elephant ivory as previously suspected. It contained cattle horns which are suspected to be from the Ankole breed of cattle. The owner of the container could not immediately be established.
The only available documentation from KRA systems show that the container came into the port as an import on March 3, 2009 and has been lying unclaimed since then.
KWS appreciates the role of the other government agencies involved in the exercise as well as media, especially those who waited for the conclusive verification of the contents of the container.