The Royal Malaysian Customs has received congratulatory messages from South Africa and the World Customs Organisation after thwarting one of the biggest ivory smuggling operations in recent memory. On Monday, Selangor Customs had seized 24 tonnes of elephant tusks and ivory worth US$20 million (RM60 million) in Port Klang from a China-bound ship that is believed to have sailed from Togo.
It is estimated that 750 elephants were killed to produce the quantum of tusks and ivory that was seized. To date, this is the biggest seizure of its kind in Malaysia. Confirming the seizure, Selangor Customs corporate communications chief Mohd Zhafri Johari explained: “In the China market, ivory could fetch a price of approximately US$25,000 per kilogramme”.
Those arrested will be charged in court under Section 133(1)(a) of the Customs Act 1967 for false declaration and under the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. This international treaty was drawn up in 1973 to protect wildlife against over-exploitation and to prevent international profiteering which involved threatening of species.
Zhafri also noted that the smuggling of ivory through Port Klang was a rare occurrence prior to 2011. Since then, however, customs have made at least three major seizures. The seized ivory is now considered government property and will be destroyed upon completion of investigation and prosecution of the suspected parties. The 1,500-odd tusks were found in two containers. Although shipping documents listed the containers’ final destination as Port Klang, customs intelligence said the containers were planned to be sent to China. Source: Thesundaily.com
- Ivory sales must stop or Africa’s elephants could soon be extinct, says Jane Goodall (guardian.co.uk)
- Massive Malaysian ivory cache seized (www.nature.com)