By Tim Barlass
They are the ugly stories that sum up animal trafficking.
Last week, nearly six tonnes of elephant ivory were pulverised by US authorities.
The carvings, jewellery, trinkets and tusks – seized over 25 years through border confiscations – were reduced to powder.
In Tanzania last week, three Chinese nationals suspected of elephant poaching were charged for possessing 706 tusks weighing 1.8 tonnes and worth an estimated $3.29 million.
The US also announced a $1 million reward for information to help break up one of Asia's largest wildlife trafficking syndicates, based in Laos.
The animal trade worldwide is estimated to be worth up to $10 billion annually.
Last month, a 36-year-old Japanese man appeared before Perth magistrates charged with trying to smuggle nine shingleback lizards out of Australia after he was stopped by Customs and Border Protection officers at Perth airport.
Indonesia is one of the worst offenders, according to the animal trade monitoring group Traffic.
Traffic's south-east Asia representative Chris Shepherd said the wildlife trade was a leading threat to many species in Indonesia, with trade in illegal protected species carried out with blatant disregard for the law.
"Species are smuggled in and out of Indonesia, with the significant wildlife traders operating with little or no fear of the law. Untouchables, so to speak," Mr Shepherd said.
“Enforcement efforts in Indonesia must be focused on shutting down the large markets selling illegal wildlife trade, and on the traders sitting on top of the trade pyramids. The big players need to be put out of business if enforcement efforts are to have any lasting impact”.
The world is dealing with an unprecedented jump in illegal wildlife trade threatening to overturn decades of conservation gains, according to the World Wildlife Fund. More....