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Kenya seizes ivory in airport search

Security officials at Kenyatta International airport in Nairobi displayed elephant tusks that were part of a one-ton shipment. Security officials at Kenyatta International airport in Nairobi displayed elephant tusks that were part of a one-ton shipment. (Sayyid Azim/Associated Press)
Associated Press / May 7, 2011

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NAIROBI — Authorities have seized the tusks of 58 elephants — totaling one ton of ivory — after sniffer dogs led investigators to containers at the country’s main airport that were bound for Nigeria, officials said yesterday.

Joseph Ngisa, the officer in charge of criminal investigation in the country’s airports, said no arrests had been made. It was not immediately clear why the ivory was being transported to the West African nation; the most common destination for smuggled ivory is Asia.

Patrick Omondi, an expert on elephants at the Kenya Wildlife Service, says illegal ivory smuggling in Africa increased after the 2007 temporary lifting of a ban by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. It allowed a one-off sale by countries that had stockpiles of ivory from elephants that had died naturally or problem elephants killed by wildlife officials.

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