Malaysian authorities have seized a staggering 15 tonnes of elephant ivory in Port Klang, just west of Kuala Lumpur; the sixth and by far the largest major seizure involving Malaysia in recent months, quite possibly the largest ever.
After the recent spate of ivory seizures in Asia - We might have hoped that the situation would improve - However the latest seizure is the largest we can remember, and is possibly the largest ever. It dwarfs all the other seizures, and in fact probably contains as much ivory as has been seized all year in the Far East. As far as we can remeber, prior to this the largest seizure was of around 6.5 tonnes in Singapore in 2002. If we estimate the tusks of an African elephant weigh 30 kilos each, this haul represents the death of 250 elephants!
The shipment originated in Mombasa, Kenya, and was hidden inside containers marked as "sandstone-made handicraft". Authorities in Malaysia have valued the shipment at approximately £15 million. The shipment was bound for SihanoukVille, in Cambodia, a port town 115 miles southwest of Phnom Penh.
Huge increase in ivory smuggling
This ivory seizure is the largest to date in a year that has seen an overwhelming number of seizures. In the first half of 2011 the volume of ivory confiscated surpassed the annual totals of the three previous years. Between August 2009 and June 2011 the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) has recorded nearly four seizures a day.
IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) salutes the achievement of the Malaysian authorities but warns that ivory trafficking will continue to enrich international criminal syndicates and devastate biodiversity unless arrests, convictions and daunting penalties are applied to everyone associated in the trade.
"Ivory trafficking remains a low-risk high reward activity for international criminal syndicates that also engage in drug and arms trafficking," said Kelvin Alie, IFAW's Program Director for Wildlife Trade. "Each piece of ivory comes from a dead elephant. An elephant killed for its ivory has almost certainly been strafed with dozens of bullets from an AK-47 or suffered a long, agonizing death from poisoned food or barbaric, homemade snares and traps." More....