MORE CHINESE NABBED WITH BLOOD IVORY WHILE IN TRANSIT VIA NAIROBI
The message went out loud and clear, after four arrests of transit passengers were made last week at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport: :DO NOT CARRY IVORY OR WE SHALL ARREST YOU, PROSECUTE YOU AND JAIL YOU!”
Three of the four passengers were destined to fly to Guangzhou, reportedly coming from Mozambique and Ghana, where they had presumably bought the ivory trinkets. It is in fact a damning indictment of the airport security and customs in those countries that passengers can leave with blood ivory items in their checked baggage but their luck ran out when they reached Nairobi. A team of security officials using trained sniffer dogs are now deployed at JKIA to detect such contraband, besides also of course discovering illicit drugs and other prohibited items.
A team of Kenya Wildlife Service personnel, and their dogs, were trained last year for two months under the African Wildlife Foundation’s canine program and their success rate affirms that investments in sniffer dogs and training does pay off. Similar teams are deployed in Mombasa where containers are not just scanned but often also physically inspected to detect contraband shipments hidden among ordinary cargo and often concealed to prevent discovery.
All eyes will now be on the upcoming court cases to find out if an example is to be made of those arrested and both heavy financial fines and long jail terms handed down, or if the magistrates presiding over the cases will still dare to defy public opinion and impose light sentences. Such practices, in the past only all too regular, have late last year led to the suspension and indictment of several magistrates who are suspected to have accepted bribes in return for both bail and then laughably light fines.