Two massive hauls of ivory bound for China have been seized in the past month on top of the 1000 ivory tusks seized in Tanzania last week.
In Hong Kong, customs officers seized 794 pieces of ivory, weighing 1.9 tonnes - while the Royal Malaysian Customs has seized two containers filled with 695 elephant tusks in the country's largest port. At least 750 elephants must have been butchered to provide such a huge quantity of ivory. This comes just 1 week after more than 1000 ivory tusks were seized in Tanzania.
The Hong Kong consignment was in a shipping container that had come from Malaysia. It was declared as non-ferrous products for factory use, but upon examination by officers of the Ports and Maritime Command was found to contain African elephant ivory, concealed by stones. A 66-year-old man was arrested and follow-up investigations are in progress.
Need to track down everyone along the smuggling chain
‘The authorities in Hong Kong are to be congratulated on this important seizure, but it is now vital to ensure that all leads are followed to track down those responsible along the entire smuggling chain,' said Tom Milliken of wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.
He added: ‘This looks like another huge consignment of ivory aimed at the Chinese market, only days after the CITES Standing Committee recommended a review of China's internal ivory trade protocol to determine whether there are possibilities for illicitly sourced ivory to leak into the legal ivory trade system.'
Milliken manages the illegal ivory trade monitoring system ETIS, which holds the details of nearly 17,000 reported ivory and other elephant product seizures that have taken place anywhere in the world since 1989. A total of 164 ivory seizures have occurred in Hong Kong during this 23-year period, collectively representing over 17 tonnes of elephant ivory.
The Malaysian shipment, labelled as ‘recycled craft plastic' originated in Tanzania but was also thought to be headed for China. The tusks, weighing nearly 2 tonnes, were packed in gunny sacks and hidden under the plastic material. The seizure, declared as "used plastics", was made at the Butterworth Port, in the northwest of Peninsular Malaysia.
‘Heartening and disappointing'
‘This latest in a series of major ivory seizures in Malaysia is both heartening and disappointing," said TRAFFIC Southeast Asia regional director Dr William Schaedla. More....