Image credit: AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
More than two tons of illegal ivory were seized when conservation officers in Kenya found it in boxes labeled "avocados" destined for Malaysia. The seizure, made at Nairobi's international airport, included 317 individual elephant pieces and five rhino horns.
It was the largest find of its type in several years and a clear sign, officials said, that poaching in Kenya is on the rise.The ivory, officials said, appeared to have been taken from animals that died naturally, but none of it had the indelible ink used to mark government-held stocks. It is thought that the collection took more than 20 years to assemble.
The management and distribution these government ivory stocks was an issue at this year's CITES conference, where it was finally decided that an official sale could not be controlled.
In Kenya, poaching has been on the rise in spite of high-profile arrests earlier this year. Since the last one-time ivory sale was approved by CITES in 2007, poaching rates have increased seven-fold in Kenya alone.
Last year, 271 Kenyan elephants were killed by poachers, compared to 37 in 2007.
Read more about poaching and conservation:
The Problem With 'Shoot to Kill' Conservation
Kenya Snares Gang of Rhino Poachers
Elephant Ivory Sale Denied by CITES
CSI Wildlife: DNA Forensics Used to Prevent Elephant Poaching