x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Investigation into seized ivory bound for Dubai widens

Shipment of 1.5 tonnes of ivory was headed to Dubai when customs officers in Colombo intercepted it.

Sri Lankan customs officials stand near seized ivory at a warehouse in Colombo. The ivory, from Africa, was for a buyer in Dubai.
Sri Lankan customs officials stand near seized ivory at a warehouse in Colombo. The ivory, from Africa, was for a buyer in Dubai.

Investigations are still being carried out into the 1.5 tonnes of African ivory intended for Dubai that was confiscation in Sri Lanka.

"It might take some more time before investigations are completed. We have also informed our counterparts in Dubai and Kenya and Interpol," said Udayanath Liyanage, the deputy director of central intelligence for Sri Lanka customs.

The seized ivory has a very high value on the black market with each kilogram fetching about US$1,000 (3672Dh). "It was a biggest haul in the region in recent times. The consignment remains in Colombo," said Mr Liyanage.

The container carrying 359 pieces of ivory originated in Kenya and was going through the main sea port of Colombo when customs agents intercepted it following a tip off by the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office of Asia Pacific region based in Seoul, South Korea.

However, an expert said that the ivory was destined for the Far East, not the UAE. "If the shipment was coming to the UAE it would probably have been for re-export somewhere else," said Dr Elsayed Mohamed, programme manager at the Dubai office of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

He said it would have been heading to a carving factory, which do not exist here. These factories are mostly in the Far East.

frahman@thenational.ae