- Date: August 08, 2013
- In This Story:
Two tons of endangered species body parts—including 1,120 ivory tusks, 13 rhino horns and five leopard skins—were uncovered by Hong Kong customs on August 6. The contraband was found in 21 crates hidden inside shipping containers arriving from Nigeria.
“The sheer volume of tusks and horns being smuggled into Asia is clear evidence that wildlife criminals continue to slaughter elephants and rhinos with no regard for consequences,” said Crawford Allan, Senior Director of TRAFFIC. “While Hong Kong’s efforts to crack down on illegal wildlife trafficking are getting results, an unimaginable number of other illicit shipments are evading detection in Asia to supply a voracious black market demand for ivory and rhino horns.”
Breaking the Illegal Wildlife Trade Chain
The contraband—estimated in value of more than $5 million—was the second major bust of illegal wildlife at Hong Kong in less than a month. In July, customs officials confiscated another two tons of illegal ivory concealed in a shipping container from Togo.
Hong Kong, together with Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, has been identified as the main transit points for ivory arriving in Asia from Africa, before onward distribution to the major markets in Thailand and China, according to analysis of the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS)
“We encourage Hong Kong to undertake forensic and intelligence analysis to track where the elephants and rhinos came from, a vital step that will help focus conservation efforts in breaking the trade chain,” added Allan.
Saving Endangered Species
Under new operational procedures agreed at CITES last March, any ivory seizure over 1,100 pounds must undergo a forensic examination to provide insights into its geographic origin and help shed light on who is orchestrating these large-scale ivory shipments.
Although no arrests have been made, Hong Kong’s Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance legislates a maximum fine of more than $600,000 and two years in jail.
WWF and TRAFFIC continue to fight the illegal trade of endangered species even as demand sky rockets in Asian countries like China and Vietnam.