Conservationists “Outraged” By Massive Illegal Ivory Haul

Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong, Province of China customs officials announced today that a 3.9-ton (8,580-pound) illegal shipment of 600 ivory tusks from endangered African elephants was discovered Tuesday – the largest seizure in Hong Kong, Province of China since the international trade of ivory was banned in 1989. The announcement is sending shockwaves of concern throughout the international conservation community, which says it signals the growth of the illegal, underground ivory trade that threatens elephants worldwide.
“While we applaud the Hong Kong, Province of China customs officers who made this discovery,” said Dr. Joth Singh, Director of Wildlife and Habitat Protection with IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org), “IFAW is outraged that massive illegal ivory hauls of this size continue to be trafficked internationally despite the ivory trade ban. It is clear that the global community just doesn’t have the capacity to enforce either the trade, or the protection of elephants. Ultimately it is the elephants themselves that pay the price. Hundreds of elephants died in this case, for what? Ivory trinkets? It is tragic. We must end the trade in elephant ivory once and for all, and stop discussions of reopening the trade.”

While the international trade in elephant ivory was banned by the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1989, some CITES member nations, led by Japan and South Africa, continue to push for the lifting of the ban and a resumption of trade.

This Hong Kong, Province of China ivory seizure is the latest seizure in what has become a global trend. Other seizures include:
• 80lbs (176 kgs) of elephant ivory seized in Kenya in January 2005.
• 500 lbs (250 kgs) of elephant ivory seized in Brazzaville, Congo in August 2005.
• 1,000 lbs (450 kgs) of elephant ivory seized in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in April 2005.
• 22 legs, 8 tusks, 3 tails, a skull and a complete elephant hide seized in Amsterdam, Netherlands in February 2005
• 142 elephant items seized in the UK in November 2004.
• 1,920 lbs (870 kgs) of elephant ivory shipped from Singapore and seized in Thailand in September 2004.
• 7,392 lbs (3,360 kgs) of elephant ivory and 242 lbs (100 kgs) of elephant hair, some of which was turned into jewelry, seized in Spain in July 2004.
• 6.5 metric tonnes (13,000 pounds) of elephant ivory seized in Singapore in 2002 – the world’s largest seizure since the 1989 international trade ban was implemented.

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