(POACHING) Kenyan customs officials seized 638 pieces of elephant ivory this week in a shipment believed to be worth a whopping $1.2 million. This shocking find comes approximately a week after a family of 11 elephants were shot and killed in a Kenyan park for their ivory tusks. Elephants across Africa have become increasingly threatened by poachers in recent years as the demand for ivory trinkets continues to rise in Asia—particularly China. And despite the East African country’s ban on the ivory trade, illegal practices are more prevalent than ever before. Read on to learn more about the heartbreaking news and sign the petition telling Chinese President Xi Jinping to stop imports of elephant tusks and rhino horns. — Global Animal
Elephants at the Amboseli game reserve, south of Kenyan capital Nairobi on Dec. 30, 2012. Photo Credit:Tony KarumbaAFP/Getty Images
Elephants at the Amboseli game reserve, south of Kenyan capital Nairobi. Photo Credit: Tony Karumba, AFP/Getty Images

Associated Press, Tom Odula

Custom officials seized 638 pieces of illegal elephant ivory estimated to be worth $1.2 million at Kenya’s main port, evidence of what wildlife officials described Wednesday as a growing threat to East Africa’s elephants.

Kenyan Wildlife wardens keep a watch on confiscated elephant tusks at the Kenyan wildlife offices in Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Khalil Senosi
Kenyan Wildlife wardens keep a watch on confiscated elephant tusks at the Kenyan wildlife offices in Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Khalil Senosi

The ivory was in a container destined for Indonesia and was discovered late Tuesday, said Gitau Gitau, the Kenya Revenue Authority officer in charge of the port. Gitau said the tusks were from Tanzania. Documents said the container was carrying slabs of decorative stones,

The seizure comes about a week after 12 elephants were killed in a Kenyan park and their tusks chopped off.

Elephant poaching is on the rise across Africa because of increased demand from Asia — particularly from China — for ivory trinkets. Poor African villagers can earn vast sums for killing an elephant and taking its tusks.

Kenyan officials became suspicious of the container because shipping documents used similar descriptions and details as a shipping container full of ivory seized in Hong Kong earlier this month. That seizure, the third big seizure of ivory in three months, found more than a ton of elephant tusks worth $1.4 million. Customs officers seized 779 pieces of ivory weighing 1,323 kilograms (2,916 pounds).

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Sign the petition telling Chinese President Xi Jinping to stop imports of elephant tusks and rhino horns.

Kenya Wildlife Officials said Wednesday that Kenya last year lost 384 elephants and 19 rhinos to poaching compared with 289 elephants and 29 rhinos poached in year 2011. The Kenya Wildlife Service arrested 1,949 poaching suspects last year.

“There has been a gradual escalation in elephant and rhino poaching since 2005 … influenced by escalation in the black market prices,” said Kenya Wildlife Service spokesman Paul Mbugua.

More Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/illegal-elephant-ivory_n_2489722.html

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