Nearly one ton of ivory seized in Guangxi, China, largest ever in region

Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Beijing, China
Approximately one ton (over 790 kilograms) of ivory was confiscated in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of China on Wednesday, representing the deaths of at least 80 endangered elephants, and an estimated $5 million USD.
“The pictures indicate that the ivory is most likely from African elephants, as you can see by the shape and the length. Also, the estimated monetary value of the ivory is a clear indication of the lure this trade presents for criminal syndicates globally,” comments Michael Wamithi, the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) global Elephants Program Director.
 
This seizure marks the largest amount of ivory ever confiscated in the Guangxi province of China, neighboring with Vietnam. The truck carrying the smuggled ivory was intercepted early Wednesday morning by the Guangxi Forestry Police after receiving a tip. IFAW congratulates the new agency for busting the case, and attributes these stepped- up enforcement efforts to recent trainings which IFAW has facilitated in controlling the illegal wildlife trade. This case is now under investigation.
 
“China is the single major destination for illegal ivory and this continued trade in Asia is in immensely affecting elephant populations,” continues Wamithi. “Elephant range States lack the resources to protect themselves against this rate of consumption, and are simply outgunned and understaffed.”
 
Just two weeks ago, it was reported that nearly 500 lbs (225 kg) of ivory was seized in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, en route from Malawi to Thailand. Two people in Malawi have been arrested, including an employee of the Malawi Revenue Authority.
 
This past June, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) decided that a nine-year suspension on ivory trade will be implemented after huge stockpile sales. In July 2008, the CITES Standing Committee will meet to determine whether China will be accepted as a trading partner for these sales. Japan has already been approved.
 
“It is our duty to mitigate the inherent inequities of the ivory trade industry. Rangers and elephants continue to die and we must take control of the situation. The first step is rejecting China as a trading partner,” concluded Wamithi.
 
In both 2005 and 2006, IFAW conducted investigations into ivory markets in China. Such reports concluded that domestic trade control mechanisms in China are far from adequate and it is impossible to ensure that continued trade in ivory will not negatively impact African and Asian elephant populations.

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