RECORD BLOOD IVORY HAUL CONFISCATED IN CHINA
One of the biggest shipments of illegal blood ivory from Africa, containing over 700 tusks and some processed ivory were recently captured by Chinese law enforcement officials. It was not immediately clear from which part of Africa the ivory came from but international organizations have put a logistics train into place which will assist in identifying the source countries by using DNA analysis. The shipment, seized last week already, is said to be worth about 18 million US Dollars, making a major financial dent into the operation of the smugglers.
At this stage it is too early to say if this seizure signifies a change of heart by China vis a vis the devastating effects of poaching in Africa, driven by the growing hunger for carved ivory exhibits which in China and other parts of the South and Far East underscore the social stature of their owners.
China has long been blamed, and critics are getting much more vocal now around the world, that they do little if anything to prevent the prohibited trade in blood ivory and other African animal products like rhino horn, skins and bones, but have until now in almost typical fashion ignored world opinion. Many international organizations have of late lobbied Chinese officials to prevail upon their government in Beijing to tighten up their legislation and introduce severe prison terms and stiff financial fines to crimes related to breaching the CITES Convention and related international agreements about in particular ivory and rhino horn possession, processing and illegal importation.
Only recently was it reported here that a large haul of illegal ivory, in transit from a port in Thailand to China, was seized by Thai customs officials, after the Thai government introduced a range of measures to cooperate with African countries to halt the blood ivory trade.
While congratulations are in order here for the Chinese authorities doing their job, much more however has to be done to stop the source of the trade and criminalize the ‘culture driven habits’ as one source at the CITES Secretariat in Lusaka put it recently.