Switzerland, TZ investigating huge amounts of ivory, Kenya preps for Giants Club Summit

Ivory trade is one of the most lucrative illicit trades across Africa.

Ivory trade is one of the most lucrative illicit trades across Africa.

Switzerland and Tanzanian authorities are investigating the source of a large haul of ivory worth US$413,000 which was seized at Zurich airport in Switzerland on July 6.

Swiss customs authorities seized 262 kg of ivory in eight suitcases, along with 1kg of lion teeth and claws headed carried by three Chinese nationals.

Switzerland and Tanzania have been able to establish the eight suitcases had originated from Tanzania’s Mwalimu Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam and they were en route to Beijing, China.

Tourism and Natural Resources Minister Lazaro Nyalandu said in a press statement Wednesday the government was working with the Tanzania Airport Authority (TAA) and security agencies to identify the suspects in the massive poaching scheme.

According to the minister the development indicates poaching still exists within and outside Tanzania territory.

“I thank swiss authorities for apprehending such a large ivory haul. But this is unfortunate for Dar es Salaam authorities for failing to get the criminals,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

He appealed to the public for any information that would lead to arrest of the suspects.

Earlier reports had indicated the ivory could have been from at least 50 elephants.

Tanzania Director of Information Service Assa Mwambene said late Wednesday all those involved in the case will be will face the wrath of the law.

Mwambene said considering the 8 suitcases originated from Dar es Salaam, it was definitely an inside job saying airport officials were involved in one way or another.

Ivory is one of the most lucrative illicit trades in , East Africa, Africa, and indeed the world, in his recent trip to Kenya, US President Barack Obama reveal the US government was planning to introduce a countrywide ban on the practice.

To raise awareness of about the urgent need to stamp out ivory trade, Kenya has started preparations to host next year’s Giants Club Wildlife Summit.

The summit will bring together African leaders, business and political leaders from across the continent and the globe to chart the way forward on how to join forces and fight ivory trade.

Giants Club is a new initiative to protect Africa elephants, it was established by the wildlife conservation agency Space for Giants.

“It is our duty to preserve our remaining elephants not only for future Kenyan generations but for the world,” President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, a Giants Club founding member told the London Evening Standard adding “We have a duty to do so. This is a heritage not just for Africans but for everyone.”

According to conservation records, in 1975, Kenya boasted of 160,000 elephants, today that number has been drastically reduced thanks to ivory poaching.