By Mohammad El Sadafy
Dubai Police running awareness campaign for airport transit passengers
Ivory smuggling from Africa to Asia via Dubai has increased this year compared to recent years, according to the emirate’s police.
According to Brigadier Ali Ateek bin Lahej, head of airport security in Dubai Police, many attempts to smuggle ivory pieces and accessories were foiled in 2014.
“Smuggling ivory is forbidden in UAE and Dubai has become a transit point for passengers from Africa to different countries and many smugglers pass through Dubai with their ivory. We have seized 22 pieces of ivory and 174 pieces of ivory accessories like bracelets so far this year compared to 39 pieces of ivory and 16 ivory bracelets during the whole of 2013,” Brigadier Ali said.
Dubai Police statistics show that no ivory was seized in 2012 while 15 pieces of ivory and 18 bracelets were confiscated in the previous year.
“We focus on smugglers in transit area and arrest the smugglers and transfer them to prosecution. We have x-ray machines and trained police officers who can foil such smuggling attempts. The penalty for the smuggler can be six months in jail and Dh50,000 fine,” Brigadier Ali added.
The price of one kilogram of ivory in the black market is $1200.
Dubai Police’s awareness campaign to educate air passengers about the dangers of ivory smuggling will continue for 20 days. Messages will be placed on TV screens at the airport’s transit lounges which are expected to be read by over one million passengers. The TV screens will also show images of seized ivory and a sentence in Arabic, English and Chinese languages, saying “Ivory smuggling leads to prosecution.”
According to Ghanim Al Shamsi of the Environment and Water Ministry, ivory smuggling is the third biggest illegal trade in the world after drugs and weapons.
“Records show that within ten years from now, all elephants will be exterminated by hunters because of ivory smuggling,” Al Shamsi said.