Kenyan police have seized 1.4 tonnes of smuggled ivory at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), Nairobi. This haul has gone on record as the largest seizure in recent years. One hundred and fifteen elephant tusks worth an estimated € 900,000.00 were discovered in abandoned metal containers in the imports section of the airport.

The tusks had been sprinkled with pepper to put sniffer dogs off the scent. Police believe that staff at the airport may have had a role to play because the containers did not seem to have any customs papers and were found at the imports instead of the exports section.

The cargo was bound for Lagos, Nigeria according to stamps on the containers. It listed 2 different senders – the Embassies of Papua New Guinea and the Kingdom of Brunei in Nairobi. Police asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to verify that these embassies existed.

There is no reason to believe that the smugglers stamped the containers to give the impression that the tusks came from these embassies.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has forbidden the ivory trade since 1989. In August 2010, two tonnes of ivory was seized at the same airport.