HONG KONG CUSTOMS DISCOVERS BLOOD IVORY WORTH 9 MILLION US DOLLARS
(Posted 07th July 2017)
China is again in the cross hairs of the global conservation fraternity after customs and other security officials discovered 7.2 tons of blood ivory hidden under a consignment of frozen fish.
The haul, estimated to worth at least 9 million US Dollars, is the largest made in Hong Kong for the past 30 years and is testament to the continued ongoing smuggling of blood ivory into Hong Kong and China.
In Tanzania alone were under the former Kikwete regime tens of thousands of elephant slaughtered for their ivory and across the African continent does the scourge continue, even though Tanzania and other East African countries have taken extra measures to combat poaching operations more effectively in recent times.
Most of the blood ivory from Africa made its way to China where a newly affluent class sees the possession of ivory carvings and trinkets as a symbol of prestige while robbing our continent of its large elephant herds, risking tourism proceeds in the process.
Three people were reportedly arrested in Hong Kong in connection with the seizure of the cargo, which had arrived in the port from Malaysia but is thought to have originated from an African port.
‘Hong Kong Customs are to be warmly congratulated on this important
seizure, but it is vital for a full and thorough investigation to take
place in the aftermath to find out who was orchestrating this massive
movement of contraband. No doubt Hong Kong’s geographic location coupled with the currently relatively lenient penalties in place for anyone convicted of wildlife
crime are reasons behind the shipment coming through the port—the case
for increasing penalties has never been stronger‘ said Dr. Yannick Kuehl, TRAFFIC’s Regional Director for East Asia.
Hong Kong is currently reviewing its legislation regarding wildlife crime and the Legislative Council is currently debating plans to phase out the Territory’s domestic ivory trade over the next five years — a timescale many have argued is out of step with neighbouring mainland China which intends to end its domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017.
Under CITES guidelines any ivory seizures of 500kgs or more are considered indicative of involvement of organized crime and should be forensically examined which in this case may establish the origin of the ivory with a high degree of certainty.