Eight Chinese citizens have recently been convicted and sentenced to 3 to 15 years imprisonment in east China's Anhui Province for smuggling a total of 3.2 tonnes of ivory between 2010 and 2012, according to a media release of the CITES Management Authority of China. All the ivory was bought on an auction website and sent to China via courier, falsely declared as calligraphy brush canisters or sewage pipes. The items were then offered for sale online to potential buyers in China. In addition to 15 years behind bars, the principal perpetrator was also ordered to surrender his 3 million Yuan (approximately USD 500,000) in cash.
In a very similar case in the neighbouring Zhejiang Province, involving the same means and smuggling route, 10 individuals were sentenced to serve jail sentences of 6.5 to 15 years. Earlier this year, three Chinese citizens in Fujian Province were sentenced to periods of 7 to 15 years imprisonment for smuggling 7.7 tonnes of ivory from Africa. More recently, on 8 November, 2013, the Supreme Court of southern China’s Guangdong Province upheld the judgment of the “court of first instance” in an ivory smuggling case, as a result of which two ivory smugglers will be jailed for 12 and 14 years for smuggling 1.04 tonnes of ivory.
Those prosecuted and convicted for ivory-related offences were not necessarily involved directly in smuggling, but in some cases for their involvement in illegal ivory trade within China.
Earlier this month, a Chinese citizen was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in Beijing for ordering two whole ivory tusks and 168 small ivory carvings in Guangdong Province, although he claimed that they were for his own collection.
Reports from the Supreme Court of China reveal that many other examples of individuals buying, selling or transporting ivory without proper documentation issued by wildlife authorities are being sentenced to imprisonment, although the quantities of ivory involved can often be relatively small. These prosecutions send a message that the risk of facing severe penalties does not stop at the border.
These are a few examples of the increasing number of ivory-related prosecutions in China. According to China’s Supreme Court, nearly 700 individuals were prosecuted during the past 10 years, with subsequent sentences for their involvement in wildlife crime ranging from 3 years to life imprisonment. They stated that ivory-related offences represented more than half of these cases in recent years. More....