Give us details on seized ivory, Kenya asks Thailand (Daily Nation (Kenya))

Kenya has written to Thailand seeking details of 511 pieces of ivory worth Sh576 million seized in Bangkok early this year.

Kenya says it wants the details of the ivory which was shipped through Mombasa in order to aid investigators.

Assistant Director of Public Prosecution Mr Alexander Muteti said on Saturday that the Thai government is expected to provide information about those behind the shipment of the ivory impounded in April at a Bangkok port.

I am aware of the mutual legal assistance where we needed details of who were the consignors and consignees, the country of origin which is very important to us among other aspects, said Mr Muteti.

He said immediately the Thai authorities give their response, a team will be sent to Bangkok to re-ship to Kenya the tons of ivory.

Once that has been established, we shall send a team to collect evidence, added Mr Muteti.

On Wednesday, the Thai government destroyed two tons of ivory confiscated from traffickers with Kenya’s ambassador to Thailand, Mr Patrick Wamoto invited to the ceremony as a sign of solidarity with the efforts by Kenya to eradicate illegal wildlife trade.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O- Cha presided over Thailand’s first destruction saying it was aimed at sending a clear message” to poachers, traffickers and traders that the Kingdom has zero tolerance to the killing of elephants and would not allow the country to be part of such abhorrent activities.”

Destruction of the stockpile was also aimed at ensuring that it would not leak” back into the market.

Mr Wamoto said he was given the assurance that the three tons of ivory shipped illegally to Thailand through Mombasa port was not part of the destroyed stockpile.

The government has requested legal assistance from its Thai counterpart to have the ivory shipped back to be used as exhibit in the case before a Mombasa court.

The ambassador also used the occasion to thank the Prime minister and the country’s ministry of environment and natural resources for supporting Kenya’s efforts of saving elephants and rhinos.

The Kenya government intends to use the ivory as exhibit against Mr Abdulrahman Sheikh, Mr Sheikh Abdulrahman, Mr Sheikh Mahmoud Abdulrahman, Mr Musa Jacob Lithare, Mr Nicholas Mweri Jefwa, Mr Samwel Bakari Jefwa and Mr Samuel Mundia.

The seven were charged with exporting 511 pieces of ivory to Thailand and Singapore without a licence and dealing with ivory of an endangered species without a license from Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

The suspects, who were also charged with engaging in organised criminal activity, were accused of committing the offence on March 15 and May 20 in Mombasa County.

The seized ivory was found hidden in sacks of tea leaves after they were tracked for months passing through ports in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore before being impounded in Thailand.

The Asian county authorities also seized another consignment of ivory weighing four tones believed to have been shipped from Mombasa ports but originated from Congo.

The stockpile of the destroyed ivory was shredded into ash and taken for incineration at a chemical plant on the outskirts of Bangkok.

Thailand has made major legislative reforms and introduced new penalties of up to four years imprisonment for those found engaging in illegal wildlife trade or in possession of African elephant ivory.