African conservation news – Malaysia nabs half a ton of blood ivory

Reports came in overnight that Malaysian customs authorities have yesterday confiscated another half ton of blood ivory during a routine inspection of a cargo container, notably this time destined for Malaysia and not in transit to China as was the case with the previous seizures.
Last year was producing record hauls of blood ivory being found, not just in Malaysia but across the Far and South East, fueled by economic recovery in China which triggered a rush for the prestigious white gold amongst the nouvelle riche who wish to possess intricate carvings to show off with no regard to the cost to Africas wildlife.
Last year Malaysian authorities captured over 6 tons of blood ivory in at least three major raids and global wildlife and conservation NGO TRAFFIC has named 2011 as the worst year ever for elephant with a total global seizure of over 23 tons, representing over 2.500 slaughtered elephant. Yet, this by the admission of many in the global conservation fraternity, is only the tip of the iceberg as only a fraction of the illegally shipped ivory from Africa is actually caught and a substantially higher percentage thought to get through to unscrupulous buyers in Asia.
The year prior only 10 tons were actually seized, showing how the problem grew in size but also owed to the increased vigilance of port and airport authorities in Africa and in Asia, now fully aware of the spotlight being on them to see how they tackle the problem. Unless however the main importing countries like China effect harsher sentences and increase vigilance and cooperation with global organizations like TRAFFIC and CITES, the problem will not any time soon go away, while the increased presence of Chinese expatriates in Africa too are seen as a contributing factor to the sharp increase in poaching for ivory and rhino horn. Watch this space.