Last updated: 12:28 PM ET, Sun June 07 2015

Nearly a Ton of Blood Ivory Seized at Uganda Airport

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | June 07, 2015

Nearly a Ton of Blood Ivory Seized at Uganda Airport

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Close to a ton of blood ivory, obtained by the illegal slaughter of often-endangered animals, was recently confiscated at Entebbe International Airport in Uganda, eTurbonews reported.

The contraband was being loaded onto a plane bound for Singapore at the time of seizure, the same location eTurbonews says a shipment of 3.7 tons of blood ivory from Kenya was seized just a few weeks ago. That shipment was one of the largest confiscations on record.

Around five airport security and handling staff are being held at the Entebbe aviation police station, where they will be processed and formally charged for their role in smuggling the six boxes.

According to eTurbonews, it is “an open secret” that blood ivory traders pay officials considerable bribes to turn a blind eye to illegal activities, often the equivalent of a year’s salaries or more. But in this case, honest authorities stepped in to make the bust. Ugandan police along with other security personnel are seeking out more suspects in connection with this most recent smuggling attempt.

Current theories as to the ivory’s origin draw a path to Uganda from Eastern Congo or South Sudan. These are war-torn parts of Africa where poaching is used to bankroll the purchase of weapons, ammunition, and supplies for the area’s multiple armed groups, eTurbonews said.

Samples of the seized ivory will be sent to a new forensic laboratory at the Kenya Wildlife Services headquarters to determine the tusks’ origin, eTurbonews said. This lab serves a large swath of Africa to provide DNA evidence related to ivory, rhino horn, and other banned wildlife trophies and bones.

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