The public still does not know what has happened to the 2,000 or more ivory tusks supposedly stored safely in Malaysia.
PETALING JAYA: News this week that over $500,000 worth of confiscated ivory was stolen from a government storage facility in Uganda, has caused concern among conservationists that the 2,000 or more ivory tusks supposedly stored safely in Malaysia has suffered the same fate too.
Numerous requests to the government for the ivory to be first independently audited, then destroyed in public, have met with silence from Prime Minister Najib Razak and Minister of Natural Resources and Environment G Palanivel.
Sean Whyte from Nature Alert said, “Why the government silence? If the ivory is still there, what is the government afraid of? As in Uganda, has Malaysia’s ivory disappeared while in government custody?”
The Philippines, Singapore, China, Chad, France, Belgium and Hong Kong have destroyed all or large parts of the ivory they have confiscated over the years.
Doing so sends a very loud and visual message to the criminals, who otherwise make vast profits from this illegal and immoral trade. It also demonstrates a country’s commitment to rid itself of the blood ivory trade.
Whyte added, “The only rational explanation why the Malaysian government won’t allow anyone to audit the ivory is because some or even all of it is no longer there.
“Rumours have been flying around for a long time about ivory being given away by Perhilitan. If the ivory is no longer in storage, this would explain why they can’t destroy it in public.”
Malaysia has become well known as being a hub for vast quantities of illegal wildlife and ivory, the reason being that criminals know Malaysia is soft on wildlife crime.
Whyte also remarked that despite ten or more shipments of ivory representing over 1,000 slaughtered-to-order elephants being intercepted in Malaysia, not a single person had been arrested or prosecuted thus far.
“Shipping agents and their customers must be made known. Containers are not placed on ships with no recipients’ address details.
“Is someone in Malaysia helping ivory traders bring the African elephant population to its knees?” Whyte wanted to know.
He added, “Along with many others I hope Interpol is investigating this serious matter.”