A Year of Ivory Seizures…and Thousands of Dead Elephants

Devastating news just in reports that approximately 2 tonnes of elephant ivory tusks have been impounded by customs authorities at Port Klang in Malaysia, en route from Mombasa in Kenya to Sihanoukville in Cambodia. 

Where the ivory was ultimately destined for has not been confirmed, and we can only conjecture. Thailand, with its renowned and thriving carving industry could have been the next port of call after Cambodia, and perhaps then on to China, to supply its booming ivory market. The ivory may have been routed through any number of other countries – but the likelihood of China being its final end point is high, given widespread recognition that the country is the single largest destination for illicit ivory in the world.

Such enormous consignments of ivory are, experts unanimously agree, the hallmark of organized international criminal syndicates. This year 13 seizures, an average of just over one seizure per month, have involved over a tonne of ivory being smuggled across international borders. Four of these, taking place over the course of just 12 days in late August/early September netted approximately 3,194 tusks, representing at least 1,774 dead elephants. 

So far this year, an absolute minimum of 30.3 tonnes of elephant ivory have been seized worldwide, equivalent to over 5,100 dead elephants. Much more ivory is suspected to make it through to the end ‘consumers’, and one cannot help wonder what the real figure is for elephants dying and how many more will go the same way for the sake of ornaments, trinkets and chopsticks?


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