KENYA: November 18, 2008
NAIROBI – Authorities in five African states have arrested 57 people suspected of illicit trafficking in wildlife products and seized 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) of ivory in an operation with Interpol, officials said on Monday.
The investigation, which authorities said was the largest ever in Africa, was carried out over a period of four months in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Zambia and the Republic of Congo.
Killing elephants for their tusks has risen in recent years, despite an international ban. China is the biggest market for illegal ivory.
“It is the first time Interpol has been involved, and it has been an outstandingly successful operation,” said Peter Younger, an official with the global police organisation.
Authorities acting undercover at airports, border crossings and other locations seized millions of dollars (euros) of hippopotamus teeth and cheetah, leopard, serval cat and python skins.
In Kenya, 368 kg (810 lb) of ivory was seized and 36 people suspected of trafficking in ivory were arrested, among them three Chinese nationals and local dealers, brokers and poachers.
(Reporting by Humphrey Malalo, Edited by Wangui Kanina and Catherine Bosley)
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