Uganda Wildlife Authority in collaboration with sister security agencies have intensified the crack down on the illegal trade in ivory in the countryside and the major entry and exit points.

The intensified joint efforts last week led to seizure of almost three tones of ivory estimated at millions of dollars, which was bound to Mombasa port for shipment to the Asian markets. The 832 pieces of ivory whose origin is yet to be established were intercepted by officials of the Uganda Revenue Authority Law enforcement section in a consignment at a warehouse along Kampala-Jinja highway. It had been concealed in gunny bags covered with plastic waste when it was detected.

According to the Deputy Director Conservation, Mr. Charles Tumwesigye, this was the biggest ivory confiscation Uganda has made over the last ten years. The owner of the cargo has been given as Mr. Odhiambo Owino, a Kenyan National who hired the truck from Kenfreight to transport the cargo to Mombasa disguised first as coffee, fish maws, cotton and plastic waste.

The truck driver and turn man have been arrested to help with investigations to establish the people involved and possibly the source of the illegal ivory. UWA will with URA that did the seizure and Interpol to undertake the forensic (DNA) analysis to establish the origin of this ivory.

Only a few days ago, four Guinean nationals were arrested Entebbe International Airport with 116 kgs of ivory. Investigations are in advanced stages for the suspects to face prosecution in Uganda courts of law.

Early this month, an Anglican priest identified as Ben Baguma was arrested with two pieces of ivory in Kabarole, western Uganda by the UWA law enforcement staff who are investigating the racket.

Another consignment with over 600 pieces of illegal ivory believed to have transited through Uganda was recently intercepted at Kenya's Mombasa port.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species banned the trade in ivory in 1989, but poaching by criminal gangs slaughtering elephants for ivory has increased across sub-Saharan Africa in recent years, intended for markets in Asia.

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