Hong Kong customs nab blood ivory shipment


In what has been described as the biggest seizure of blood ivory has the customs department in Hong Kong in a joint operation with other security organs confiscated nearly 4 tons of ivory, representing the life of over 600 elephants. Shipment documents indicate that the two containers of contraband originated from Tanzania and Kenya, representing a market value of nearly 3.5 million US Dollars. At least 7 people were arrested according to media reports from Hong Kong, now facing prison terms of up to 7 years and fines up to 2 million HK Dollars if found guilty in a court of law.

Demand for blood ivory from within China is the major driver for the sharp increase in poaching of elephant, which according to a parliamentary report filed in Tanzania recently stands at up to 30 animals poached per day.

The seizure will come as a blow to Tanzania which is intent to once again file a request to sell 100 tons of ivory to the next CITES Convention in Bangkok next year, but has ahead of the last such meeting in Doha lost out when the CITES Secretariat found huge gaps in enforcement and anti poaching efforts by Tanzanian officials, turning down the application at the time. Continued finds of blood ivory hauls originating from Tanzania will therefore dent hopes they will be permitted to sell unless they can finally demonstrate that the get a handle on poaching and turn the tide.

Kenya in contrast has nabbed over 8 tons of blood ivory, often in air cargo transit shipments, by the introduction of canine units at airports and sea ports over the past two years, demonstrating greater commitment and stricter monitoring of cargo shipments to the world in the fight against poaching.

Watch this space for regular updates on conservation issues of concern across the Eastern African elephant range countries.

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