Malaysia customs seize record blood ivory shipment

MALAYSIA SEIZES RECORD HAUL OF BLOOD IVORY

Information has just come to light that customs and port officials in Port Kelang in Malaysia have confiscated what might be the largest blood ivory haul ever, weighing as much as 20 tons according to sources quoted in Malaysia.

The shipment according to the details availed came from Togo in West Africa and was destined to be shipped on to a final destination thought to be China.

At least 1.500 tusks were found aleady at the time the information was sent, representing at least 750 elephant butchered for their tusks, which in China and other Far and South East Asian countries fetch record prices as the demand for carvings, seals and even chopsticks made of ivory soars among the nouvelle riche in that part of the world

CITES is heading into their next general meeting in 2013 already faced with applications to sell so called legal ivory but the amount of illegal ivory seized this year in various raids in Malaysia and Hong Kong indicates that a new approach will be needed to stop the slaughter of the African elephant. More and more conservationists now demand the total ban on ivory trade and the criminalization of possessing and processing ivory, leaving CITES in an unenviable position to find a solution among signatory states. Efforts are also underway to strip the most notorious countries for the importation of blood ivory like China of their ivory trading status in the absence of stricter enforcement of existing laws or the introduction of new legislation to prevent trade in blood ivory. Estimates are being made now that 2012 might be the bloodiest year ever for the African elephant with more than 10.000 elephant allegedly poached in Tanzania alone and perhaps as many as 30.000 across the continent.

A Malaysian port cargo handling company is being investigated while TRAFFIC (www.traffic.org) has also launched independent investigations aimed to identify the origin of the ivory via DNA testing and establishing who shipped the cargo from Togo, while at the same time attempting to find the final destination and recipients of the blood ivory to bring all those involved to justice.

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