Record Seizure of Illegal Ivory in Malaysia

Larger than all 2011 seizures

Ryan O'Hanlon

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Authorities in Malaysia seized a record 1,500 elephant tusks bound for China on Monday, a shipment weighing more than all the ivory seized globally last year. Officials found the 24-ton shipment, worth more than $19 million, in two shipping containers from Togo at a terminal near Kuala Lumpur.

“The two containers were found to be filled with sawn timber,” said state customs director Azis Yaacub. “Inside the wood there were secret compartments that were filled with elephant tusks.”

There were already several large seizures earlier this year in New York (0.9 tons), Sri Lanka (1.5 tons), and Hong Kong (five tons in two seperate stings). Experts blame the high price of illegal ivory for the booming underground trade.

“I thought that when the international ivory trade ban was agreed in 1989, we would see a permanent reversal of fortunes for this beleaguered species. How wrong I was—the respite was temporary,” said Will Travers, chief executive of the Born Free Foundation. “Experts estimate that between 20,000 and 30,000 elephants are being illegally killed each year to fuel demand, largely driven by China.”

Via The Guardian

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