- Published on Monday, 22 October 2012 03:53
- Written by MARC NKWAME in Arusha
- Hits: 1806
TANZANIAN wildlife authorities have disowned a consignment of elephant tusks seized in Hong Kong that were reported to have been shipped from the country.
The Wildlife Officer in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Paul Sarakikya, said that such a consignment could not have been collected from Tanzania.Hong Kong authorities at the weekend reportedly confiscated US $3.4
million (nearly 6bn/-) worth of elephant tusks found in two containers.
The contraband weighed more than 8,000 pounds, making it one of the biggest ever seizure of ivory in Hong Kong.
He said that in most cases, the Dar es Salaam port could have been used simply as gateway by illegal ivory dealers who usually collect such "forbidden treasures" from as far as Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and other landlocked countries.
"Tanzania has succeeded in curbing elephant and other wildlife poaching to a great extent, it may be occurring as isolated cases, but such large consignment of ivories could not have been collected from the country," said Mr Sarakikya.
The Wildlife Officer, however, admitted that Tanzania's ports of entries, such as the Dar es Salaam harbour need to take greater care in screening containers from other countries being exported from the port because many of them could be carrying illegal goods including ivories.
The containers, according to Hong Kong Customs officials, had been shipped from Tanzania and Kenya. The agency seized a total of 1,209 pieces of ivory tusks and three pounds of ivory ornaments from the two containers.The reports have come when Tanzania has once again applied for a go-ahead to sell over 101,005kg of its ivory stockpile valued at over $55.5million (about 88.8bn/-) with a pledge that the money, if availed, would be used for anti-poaching operations.
The deputy minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu confirmed recently that the government had reapplied to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for the sale of its ivory stockpile.
Last weekend, the Police in Arusha region in association with Kilimanjaro National Park officials impounded a rifle said to have been smuggled from Kenya and arrested one person in connection with the incident.China has reportedly taken over Japan as the world's largest ivory consumer.
And from 2006 to 2012, the ivory price in China has tripled, causing some Chinese to buy ivory products in Africa with dollars and smuggle them back to China to sell for a better price.