By George Obulutsa
NAIROBI (Reuters) - A shipping container filled with hundreds of elephant tusks seized in Sri Lanka this week came from the Kenyan port of Mombasa, Kenyan wildlife authorities said on Thursday.
The 359 tusks, weighing 1.6 metric tons (1.76 tons), had been declared as scrap plastic but were impounded in Colombo on Tuesday while en route to Dubai after scans revealed the container's true contents.
Poaching in Kenya has declined significantly since the 1980s and 1990s, when gangs almost wiped out the elephant and rhino populations, but there has been an upsurge in recent years.
Elephant ivory is typically smuggled to Asia where it is carved into ornaments and rhino horn is used in traditional medicine.
The Kenyan Wildlife Service said in a statement the container had been shipped from Mombasa but did not specify where the ivory came from.
Privately-owned Citizen Television reported on Thursday that police had arrested three people and seized two elephant tusks valued at about 1 million shillings ($12,000).
The Kenyan Wildlife Service said in the past two weeks it had made 32 arrests and killed two suspected poachers in various parts of the country.
(Additional reporting by Ranga Sirilal in Colombo; editing by Pravin Char)