Hong Kong Customs today announced the seizure, on 18th July, of 1,148 ivory tusks weighing 2.183 tonnes. The tusks were declared as timber and concealed in a 20 foot (6 m) container that arrived on a vessel from the West African country of Togo.
It was the ninth large-scale ivory seizure made in Hong Kong since 2010, with a combined weight of just over 14 tonnes. CITES has defined large-scale seizures as 500 kg or more, and typically are indicative of organized criminal activity.
Hong Kong, together with Malaysia, the Philippines and Viet Nam, were identified through analysis of the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) database as the main transit points for ivory arriving in Asia from Africa before onward distribution to the major markets in Thailand and China. Collectively, they have made or been implicated in 21 (62%) of the 34 large-scale ivory seizures made between 2009 and 2011, totalling 41.1 tonnes of ivory.
ETIS is the world's foremost collection of ivory and other elephant product seizures containing nearly 20,000 records from some 90 countries or territories worldwide since 1989. It is managed by TRAFFIC on behalf of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), who met this March in Bangkok, Thailand.
"TRAFFIC congratulates Hong Kong Customs on their diligence in making this seizure and hopes that the countries involved conduct the necessary follow-up investigation needed to unmask the criminals behind this transaction," said Tom Milliken, TRAFFIC's ivory expert.
Under new operational procedures agreed at CITES last March, any ivory seizure over 500 kg will undergo a forensic examination to provide insights into its origin and help shed light on who is orchestrating these large-scale ivory shipments. More....