More smuggled ivory seized in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 November, 2012, 2:24pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 November, 2012, 4:31pm

Customs officers in Hong Kong have seized a shipping container carrying more than a tonne of ivory worth about US$1.37 million, officials said.

“A total of 569 pieces of ivory tusks, weighing 1,330kg” were seized on Thursday, officials said.

Customs officers made the city’s largest seizure last month when they intercepted almost four tonnes of ivory worth about US$3.4 million, hidden in shipments from Kenya and Tanzania. It was also one of the world’s biggest ever seizures of illicit ivory.

Some 1,209 pieces of raw ivory tusk and a small number of ivory ornaments were discovered in two containers masked “plastic scrap” and “beans”.

The cargo was seized at the Kwai Chung container port, a day after agents arrested seven people in Dongguan in Guangdong province.

The raid was the outcome of a two-month-long, cross-border investigation by Hong Kong and Guangdong customs agents.

The ivory seized last month could have fetched upwards of HK$26.7 million on Asia’s booming black market.

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

But the illicit trade in Asia is fuelled by demand for ivory carvings and jewellery.

Additional reporting by Thomas Chan