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Page last updated at 14:46 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 15:46 UK

Kenya poachers admit ivory haul

File image of ivory haul
Officials seized whole tusks like these, as well as pieces of tusk

Two men caught with dozens of elephant tusks have pleaded guilty in a Kenyan court to illegal possession of ivory.

The men, a Kenyan and a Tanzanian, were stopped on Saturday near the Tanzanian border. Officials found more than 500kg (1,100 lb) of ivory in their vehicle.

It is one of the largest seizures of ivory in the region for years.

The haul represented an "unspeakable cost to our tourism industry as well as the ecosystems", Kenyan wildlife officials said.

"This is a major setback to efforts by Kenya to recover its elephant population after it dropped from 167,000 in 1963 to the current 33,000," the Kenya Wildlife Service said in a statement.

The seizure was made in Amboseli National Park in the south of the country.

Map

Wildlife officials who searched the vehicle found 33 whole tusks and 57 pieces of tusk, senior warden George Osuri told the Associated Press news agency.

The international ivory trade has been banned since 1989. The sale of ivory is illegal if the ivory is not from pre-1989 stockpiles.

The two men will be sentenced on 4 May.



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