Major ivory seizure in Dar es Salaam

Police in Dar es Salaam have seized more than 200 elephant tusks hidden in a coffin and in fertiliser bags, in what is one of the nation's biggest seizures of ivory in recent history.

Highlighting the large size of the 214 tusks, police believe the ivory was carefully selected for specific customers, and valued the trawl at $1.3 million.

The smugglers had intended transporting the ivory into Kenya according to the officials who stated that much of the ivory smuggled out of east African countries such as Tanzania ends up in Asian countries. The illegal ivory trade in China is booming and offers smugglers high prices for the illegal merchandise which is used for ornaments and in folk medicines.

Officials said the discovery pointed to Tanzania's escalating poaching problem, which was described as “out of control” by Tanzania’s shadow minister for natural resources and tourism Peter Msigwa from the leading opposition party, Chadema. Msigwa accused the minister for natural resources Khamis Kagasheki of “silence” over Tanzania’s increasing trade in ivory, which he said resulted in the slaughter of “an average of 30 elephants” per day.  

In mid- October, $3.5 million worth of Tanzanian and Kenyan elephant tusks and ornaments was seized in Hong Kong, its biggest seizure of illegal ivory.