Dar es Salaam – Tanzanian and Malawian police forces seized 1 126 elephant tusks that were apparently intended for sale on the black market, officials said Friday.
Tanzanian police spokesperson Robert Manumba said about 350 pieces were found in Dar es Salaam while the rest were discovered in Malawi.
After the initial raid in Dar es Salaam, police discovered information that led to the capture of the larger shipment, which was concealed as cement and had already crossed into Malawi.
Kenya Wildlife Service this week said police captured nearly a tonne and half of elephant ivory inside a container at Mombasa port.
The smugglers tried to conceal the ivory by packing it along with sun dried fish maws, which has a strong odour.
Some of the ivory had been worked into polished pieces.
The value of elephant ivory has been on a sharp rise in recent years, fuelling an increase in poaching. A kilogramme sells for more than $2 000.
During his recent trip to Africa, US President Barack Obama announced $10m in aid to curb rhinoceros and elephant poaching.
Experts say rhinos could be on the path to extinction in the coming years if poaching is not stopped.
South Africa, home to the largest population of the massive herbivores, has been hit particularly hard by smugglers who kill rhinos for their horns.
The poachers then export and sell them on to consumers, mostly in Asia, who believe the horns have medicinal value, though there is no science to back the claim.
More than 400 rhinos have been killed this year in South Africa.
The government in Pretoria this week proposed introducing a “well-regulated” international rhino horn trade, which it hopes will help curb poaching.