Friday, March 25, 2016

Dutch nationals arrested with 61 monkeys at airport

A vehicle loaded with six boxes containing 61

A vehicle loaded with six boxes containing 61 monkeys is parked at Kilimanjaro International Airport yesterday after the police arrested two Dutch nationals trying to leave the country with the animals.   PHOTO | DIONS NYATO 

By Daniel Mjema

Moshi. Two Dutch nationals have been arrested as they attempted to export 61 monkeys to Albania.

They were stopped at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) on Wednesday before flying with the monkeys on a cargo jet. However, it was discovered that they had obtained a permit to take the animals out of the country.

Curiously,  the permits were issued contrary to a ban imposed by the minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Prof Jumanne Maghembe, not to ferry wild animals outside the country. The order came into force on March 20, this year.

Kilimanjaro regional police commander Wilbroad Mutafungwa told The Citizen yesterday that the foreigners showed a permit issued by the assistant director of Wildlife.

The suspects were brothers Artem Alik Vardanyian, 52, and Eduard Alik Vardanyian, 44. They were both managers of different hotels in their country of origin. It was not immediately established what the monkeys were to be used for.

“We are holding them because although the permits were issued by the ministry they are invalid on the strength of the export ban,” Mutafungwa asserted.

He also said there was no release order from the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) as the law directed. The caged monkeys were reportedly bought from Arusha residents, who have permits to catch them.

The cargo plane from South Africa was turned back by airport officials, who said there were no animals to export.

Sources hinted the brothers had wanted to buy up to 300 monkeys, but were not granted any permit for such a huge number of animals. The 61 monkeys were bought in the last six months.

A warning had been issued at the airport over a planned export of unspecified number of wildlife.

The ferrying of wildlife from the country is not without controversy following the jailing of a Pakistan national, Kamran Ahmed in 2014, who was charged with smuggling 152 animals through the same airport.

He reportedly exported four giraffes worth Sh170 million to Doha in Qatar using a military plane. The court sentenced him to 30 years in jail in absentia.