HK nabs $5.3M in ivory, rhino horns, leopard skins (Update)

Aug 07, 2013
A photographer takes pictures of illegal ivory after a press conference in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013. A shipment of illegal ivory, rhino horns and leopard skins worth $5.3 million was seized in Hong Kong's second big bust of endangered species products in a month. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Hong Kong customs officials have seized a shipment of illegal ivory, rhino horns and leopard skins worth $5.3 million in the territory's second big bust of endangered species products in a month.

The haul is also the latest in a string of big ivory seizures over the past year in the southern Chinese city.

Acting on a tip from customs officials in mainland China, authorities at Hong Kong's port confiscated 1,120 ivory tusks, 13 rhino horns and five leopard skins weighing a total of 2,266 kilograms (4,997 pounds), said Vincent Wong, customs' head of ports and maritime command.

They were found Tuesday in 21 crates hidden in a container full of wood that originated in Nigeria, he said. Wong said the shipment changed vessels in Shanghai before arriving in Hong Kong, but he did not believe the former British colony was the final destination.

Wildlife activists say China's growing presence in Africa is to blame for an unprecedented surge in poaching of elephants for their tusks, most of which are believed to be smuggled into China and Thailand to make ivory ornaments.

According to CITES, the international body that monitors endangered species, the illegal trade in ivory has more than doubled since 2007.

Ivory can fetch up to $2,000 per kilogram ($910 per pound) on the black market and more than $50,000 for an entire tusk.

Crates full of illegal ivory are displayed during a press conference in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013. A shipment of illegal ivory, rhino horns and leopard skins worth $5.3 million was seized in Hong Kong's second big bust of endangered species products in a month. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Last month, more than 2 tons of elephant tusks worth an estimated $2.25 million found in a container from Togo were confiscated by Hong Kong customs officials, who said it was the city's biggest ivory seizure since 2010. In January, officials confiscated an ivory shipment worth $1.4 million that came from Kenya, which followed two big ivory seizures last fall.

Demand for rhino horn is driven by the belief in Asia that the ground-up horn cures diseases, which is not supported by medical evidence. Rhino horn is made of keratin, a tough protein found in human fingernails.

No one has been arrested.

Camera men take video of illegal ivory after a press conference in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013. A shipment of illegal ivory, rhino horns and leopard skins worth $5.3 million was seized in Hong Kong's second big bust of endangered species products in a month. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Under Hong Kong law, anyone found guilty of trading in products from endangered species faces up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $645,000.

Explore further: Hong Kong seizes 113 smuggled ivory tusks

not rated yet
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.

Kenyan officials seize 1.5 tonnes of hidden ivory

Jul 03, 2013

Officials in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa seized almost one and a half tonnes of ivory hacked out of poached elephants, they said Wednesday, the latest in a series of seizures by Kenyan authorities.

Hong Kong seizes record haul of rhino horns

Nov 15, 2011

Hong Kong Customs officers have seized a record haul of 33 rhino horns along with ivory chopsticks and bracelets hidden inside a container shipped from South Africa, officials said on Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Citizen scientists match research tool when counting sharks

11 hours ago

Shark data collected by citizen scientists may be as reliable as data collected using automated tools, according to results published April 23, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Gabriel Vianna from The University of Wes ...

Researchers detail newly discovered deer migration

18 hours ago

A team of researchers including University of Wyoming scientists has documented the longest migration of mule deer ever recorded, the latest development in an initiative to understand and conserve ungulate ...

How Australia got the hump with one million feral camels

19 hours ago

A new study by a University of Exeter researcher has shed light on how an estimated one million-strong population of wild camels thriving in Australia's remote outback have become reviled as pests and culled ...

Former Iron Curtain still barrier for deer

Apr 23, 2014

The Iron Curtain was traced by an electrified barbed-wire fence that isolated the communist world from the West. It was an impenetrable Cold War barrier—and for some inhabitants of the Czech Republic it ...

Humpback protections downgrade clears way for pipeline

Apr 22, 2014

Environmentalist activists on Tuesday decried Canada's downgrading of humpback whale protections, suggesting the decision was fast-tracked to clear a major hurdle to constructing a pipeline to the Pacific ...

Maine baby lobster decline could end high catches

Apr 22, 2014

Scientists say the number of baby lobsters settling off the rocky coast of Maine continues to steadily decline—possibly foreshadowing an end to the recent record catches that have boosted New England's lobster fishery.

User comments : 0

More news stories

FDA proposes first regulations for e-cigarettes

The federal government wants to prohibit sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels under regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration.

Brazil enacts Internet 'Bill of Rights'

Brazil's president signed into law on Wednesday a "Bill of Rights" for the digital age that aims to protect online privacy and promote the Internet as a public utility by barring telecommunications companies ...