What you need to know:
- The rosewood type is one of the rarest and valuable wood only found in Madagascar in Africa, KWS Coast Conservation Area Assistant Director Arthur Tuda told the Nation.
- According to the KWS officials, the consignment came in in three vessels that were expected to dock in Mombasa port last week.
Kenya Wildlife Service officials Monday seized 640 tonnes of endangered rosewood logs in 34 containers in Mombasa.
The logs bound for Hong Kong from Madagascar were impounded through a joint effort by the KWS, Kenya Ports Authority and the Kenya Revenue Authority officials.
The rosewood type is one of the rarest and valuable wood only found in Madagascar in Africa, KWS Coast Conservation Area Assistant Director Arthur Tuda told the Nation.
“This is a very vulnerable and valuable wood species currently prone to extinction if exploitation is not controlled. It is only found in Madagascar, Honduras and Brazil and its trade is prohibited, the Malagasy government banned this trade sometime back,” he said.
The goods are said to have been trailed from Madagascar early last month and were rerouted to Zanzibar for trans-shipment.
According to information from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the species is highly prized for its red color but is overexploited in the wild.
Mr Tuda told the Nation the wood is suitable for making guitars, marimbas, turnery (billiard cues, the black pieces in chess sets), handles, furniture and luxury flooring.
“Rosewood is one of the most expensive natural products found in the wild; it is highly sought after though it is very rare. The wood is extremely dense and durable. It is stronger than teak and is comparable in price. The valuable timber is used for quality furnishings,” he added.
According to the KWS officials, the consignment came in in three vessels that were expected to dock in Mombasa port last week.
The vessels failed to dock at the port on the said time, raising suspicion.
KWS officials who got in touch with the KPA officials offloaded the containers after they got intelligence that there were about 11 containers that had suspicious cargo.
On further verification of the containers, they discovered at least 34 containers with the precious illegal commodity.
Mr Tuda said that the demand for such commodity was fuelled mostly by desire for exotic imperial-style furniture especially from the Middle East and that European and American demand for high-end musical instruments and furniture have also played a role.
KRA Southern Region Senior Assistant Commissioner Fatma Yusuf said the consignment would be in their custody as they carry out investigations on who was the owner of the shipment.
“These goods will remain at the custody of the Customs pending further investigations, so far we have not yet got the value but as we know these are restricted goods. We know it will take a bit of time as goods that are trans-shipped make it hard to trace the owner, but we will manage through our systems,” she said.