Information received indicates that in recent weeks over one and a half tons of ivory has been confiscated and recovered from poachers, smugglers and individuals found with it, across Eastern Africa in a concerted effort of the respective wildlife authorities, police and other security organs and customs.
The five East African Community member states were joined by Ethiopia in the coordinated dragnet, which consisted of road blocks, use of sniffer dogs, extra vigilance at airports and land borders and sudden swoops at known transaction points.
About 1.2 tons in total were in fact confiscated at airports, where the blood ivory was at times hidden among other cargo items readied for shipment and suspected to be destined for China and other ivory-hungry countries in the Far and South East.
Notably, three Chinese citizens were again among those arrested, while suspects from within the East African Community too were nabbed and produced in court for prosecution.
Sources requesting anonymity within the wildlife management circles in Eastern Africa blamed the loosening of the ban of trade in elephant products, requested by Southern African countries, on the increase in poaching, with one source in particular making it abundantly clear that in his opinion the two issues are directly related and that poaching and smuggling of ivory are always on the increase whenever the Southern African nations are granted a reprieve to trade their so-called legal ivory.
In Kenya alone, as a result of the lifting of the ban in trade, the poaching of elephants has more than quadrupled compared with the year before the ban was lifted, causing enough concern to even more vigorously oppose such special concessions in future years.
Other game trophies, like leopard skins, were also recovered in the operation.