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Ten ivory smugglers arrested in Rwanda

Rwandan police have arrested 10 ivory smugglers, including foreigners, as the small central African nation stepped up anti-poaching measures, police said Saturday.

The suspects that include six Rwandans and four Guinea-Conakry nationals were apprehended on Friday attempting to traffic elephant tusks through Rwandan territory from Tanzania.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday Lynder Nkuranga, Deputy Commissioner for Public Relations and Media, Rwanda National Police said that preliminary investigations indicate that the elephant tusks had been smuggled from Tanzania, although the suspects claim that they got them from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"The suspected smugglers have been arrested separately as they attempted to use Rwanda as a transit route to their destination in Asia, with about 80 kilograms of partially processed Ivory," he added.

"Investigations are underway to ensure that all those that could be connected to this criminal business face the law. Rwanda can’t be a transit or destination for illegal trade."

In March this year, Rwandan courts sentenced three Guineans and a Rwandan to six years in jail after they pleaded guilty to trafficking about 88 kilograms of ivory.

Despite a ban on the international trade in ivory, African elephants are still being poached in large numbers. Tens of thousands of elephants are being killed every year for their ivory tusks.

The ban on international trade was introduced in 1989 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora after years of unprecedented poaching.

In the 1980s, an estimated 100,000 elephants were being killed per year and close to 80 percent of herds were lost in some regions in Africa, according to World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Insufficient anti-poaching capacity, weak law enforcement and corruption are reported to undermine efforts to stop the poaching and trafficking in Africa.


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