Conservationists say a recent surge in elephant poaching is putting the world's biggest land mammal on the brink of extinction. On Friday, advocates held marches in more than a dozen cities across the globe — from Australia to Thailand to Tanzania — hoping to put an end to the practice of slaughtering elephants so their tusks can be used for the illegal ivory trade.
Wildlife activists say China's growing presence in Africa has led to a huge surge in the poaching of elephants for their tusks, most of which are believed to be smuggled into China and Thailand to make ivory ornaments.
On Thursday, customs agents in Hong Kong seized nearly 1,700 pounds of illegal ivory with a street value of about $1.5 million, according to officials, who said they had found a total of 189 elephant tusks in anti-smuggling operations carried out in late September. No arrests have been made, and authorities say they continue to look for the smugglers.
The ivory was wrapped in linen and nylon bags and hidden in large sacks of soybeans in containers on three separate ships, said Vincent Wong, head of Hong Kong's Ports and Maritime Command.
"All of these goods — they do not originate from Hong Kong, they originate from Africa or African countries. And they transshipped through another country. In this case it's Malaysia," said Wong at a news conference Thursday.
But Hong Kong is a major transit point for ivory before it heads to mainland China and Thailand, Al Jazeera's Craig Leeson reported. More....