Customs officials in Hong Kong have seized 1,120 elephant tusks, 13 rhino horns, and five leopard skins in one shipment which originated from Nigeria, with a mid-July stop in Shanghai.
In a press release, Vincent Wong, head of Hong Kong customs ports control, said that the two-ton illegal haul is “quite unique, because in one single case, we seized ivory tusks, rhino horns and leopard skins, five leopard skins as a whole”. He added that the August 7 seizure is the port’s third ivory incident in 2013.
From 2010 up till now, every year we detect three to four cases of smuggling ivory tusks. In 2013, this year, this is the third case. And so, we do not have intelligence or information showing that there is a rising trend of smuggling ivory tusks.
Wong explained that it is not possible to check every shipment because “there are thousands or tens of thousands of boxes moving in and out” of Hong Kong’s port.
Since the CITES-approved one-off sale of stockpiled ivory in 2008 by Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, an estimated 25,000 African elephants are massacred annually to feed the re-ignited appetite for ivory, particularly in China. The stockpile sale was touted by its proponents as a measure to stop the flow of illegal ivory by releasing legal ivory into the market, but has (unsurprisingly) had the opposite effect.