HK seizes baby elephant tusks in major ivory haul

Jul 19, 2013
Seized ivory tusks are displayed during a Hong Kong Customs press conference on January 4, 2013. More than 1,000 ivory tusks, mainly from baby elephants, were seized by Hong Kong customs in their biggest haul in three years, officials said on Friday.

More than 1,000 ivory tusks, mainly from baby elephants, were seized by Hong Kong customs in their biggest haul in three years, officials said on Friday.

The , which weigh over two tonnes and are worth more than US$2 million, were discovered at the city's main port in a cargo from the African country of Togo.

It was headed for mainland China and the bags of tusks were hidden beneath planks of wood.

"We profiled a container from Togo, Africa, for cargo examination. First, we found irregularities at an X-ray check. Then, we opened the container and discovered the tusks of different sizes," Wong Wai-hung, a customs' commander, told reporters.

He added that the tusks were buried underneath planks of wood in the corner of the six-metre (20-foot) container, which had been declared as carrying wood only.

More than 1,148 tusks were seized in the haul at Hong Kong's Kwai Chung terminal, worth around HK$17.5m (US$2.3m).

It was the biggest seizure in the southern Chinese city since 2010, since when another nine cases have been recorded.

Ng Kwok-leung, customs' group head of ports control, said that the majority of the tusks seized in the operation were from baby elephants.

Elephants at a game reserve in Kenya on December 30, 2012. More than 1,000 ivory tusks, mainly from baby elephants, were seized by Hong Kong customs in their biggest haul in three years, officials said on Friday.

"It was a big haul, we should be happy. But when I looked at these tusks, we saw very small tusks of baby elephants. We were sad because they were killed for nothing," he said.

The international trade in , with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after populations of the African giants dropped from millions in the mid-20th century to some 600,000 by the end of the 1980s.

Ivory is popular with Chinese collectors who see it as a valuable investment.

It is often intricately carved to depict anything from devotional Buddhist scenes to wildlife and bizarre fantasies, and is also turned into more mundane household objects such as chopsticks.

Conservation groups have accused the Chinese government of failing to enforce laws to control the illicit trade.

Hong Kong, a free port which runs one of the biggest container terminals in the world, often sees the seizure of products from banned trades.

But customs officials said on Friday said there was "no concrete information" to show that the financial hub had become a gateway for ivory smuggling, despite its proximity to China.

Explore further: Famed Galapagos tortoise 'Pepe the Missionary' dies

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hong Kong seizes huge haul of smuggled ivory

Jan 04, 2013

Hong Kong said Friday it had seized more than a tonne of ivory worth about $1.4 million in a shipment from Kenya, the city's third big seizure in less than three months.

Malaysia seizes million-dollar ivory shipment

Dec 13, 2011

Malaysia has seized elephant tusks and ivory handicrafts worth an estimated four million ringgit ($1.3 million) en route from Kenya to Cambodia, a customs official said Tuesday.

Hong Kong seizes nearly 800 smuggled elephant tusks

Aug 31, 2011

Hong Kong has seized nearly two tonnes of elephant ivory worth about $1.7 million hidden in a shipment from Malaysia and detained a local man over the haul, customs authorities said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Speckled beetle key to saving crops in Ethiopia

Aug 22, 2014

(Phys.org) —An invasive weed poses a serious and frightening threat to farming families in Ethiopia, but scientists from a Virginia Tech-led program have unleashed a new weapon in the fight against hunger: ...

New tool to assess noise impact on marine mammals

Aug 22, 2014

A new desktop tool which will allow offshore renewable energy developers to assess the likely impacts of their projects on marine mammal populations has been developed by scientists at the University of St ...

Of bees, mites, and viruses

Aug 21, 2014

Honeybee colonies are dying at alarming rates worldwide. A variety of factors have been proposed to explain their decline, but the exact cause—and how bees can be saved—remains unclear. An article published on August ...

User comments : 0