Half a ton of blood ivory seized in Riyadh on a Saudia flight


(Posted 19th October 2014)

News came in late yesterday that airport security in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital, seized half a ton of blood ivory off a Saudia flight from an African country, which was to be shipped on to a destination in Asia. From reports received, though sketchy at present, it appears that some 588 cut pieces of ivory were concealed in several boxes and suitcases checked in by a passenger whose final destination was East Asia. Saudi authorities were tightlipped to reveal the origin and final destination while further investigations were ongoing.

What can be concluded however is that at the point of origin corrupt officials must have participated in the shipping of the blood ivory as any amount of excess baggage, after being paid for to the airline and checked in, is routinely or should routinely be scanned and only officials looking the other way could have facilitated the contraband to be loaded on the flight.

Several countries have of late been fingered as major conduits for blood ivory which is shipped through air- and seaports alike and while the number of seizures, especially in Nairobi at JKIA, have risen substantially over the past two years, major quantities are still thought to make it through the East African ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam but just as much as through the Mozambique seaports.

There is growing pressure on CITES to finally get serious about sanctioning countries engaged in the illegal trade and shipments, both originating and destination countries for ivory and rhino horn among many other wildlife products like skins and bones and public opinion has also turned against countries which continue to be lax over illegal imports, with China, Vietnam and Thailand among those cited in literally every piece written about the trade.

Kudos to the Saudi officials for being diligent and detecting and confiscating the shipment and mega barbs to the officials in the country where the shipment was loaded. Corruption in that country clearly is the order of the day.

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