In what is becoming a weekly occurrence, airport customs officials announced yesterday that yet another large haul of ivory tusks and pangolin scales were intercepted over the weekend at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia; which has increasingly become a major transit point for illegal trafficking of endangered species.
This marks the eighth seizure of elephant ivory and African pangolin scales there so far this year.
Since the recent string of cases like this of late apparently are not enough to deter other perpetrators from attempting to illegally transport wildlife and parts to Asia, on Sunday customs officials recovered nearly one million dollars worth of smuggled tusks and scales.
The tusks had reportedly been shipped from Nigeria by way of Abu Dhabi on Etihad Airways.
The same day, different animal parts, pangolin scales were also confiscated from a shipment from Ethiopian Airlines that had originated in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As WAN has reported repeatedly, pangolins are the world’s most poached animal.
The shipments were discovered in the airport’s cargo warehouse where it was also determined that the deliveries were both to be sent to fake addresses to deter officials from tracing the intended recipients.
With so many seizures of wildlife at the Kuala Lumpar International Airport this year alone, investigators speculate that airport staff may be involved in the illegal trade.
“We don’t have proof but I believe that they (trafficking syndicates) exploit our systems and procedures in these smuggling activities,” noted senior customs official Mohammad Pudzi in a Sky News article.
“2017 has clearly been a busy and fruitful one for Malaysian Customs and we applaud them for the effort that has led to the string of seizures,” Kanitha Krishnasamy, Acting Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia stated after a Press Conference yesterday. “All the countries involved in these routes must show similar vigilance to identify parties involved and disrupt the operations of criminals masterminding these intercontinental shipments”.
According to TRAFFIC, no arrests have been made in connection with Sunday’s seizures though both cases are being investigated under the section 135(1) of the Customs Act 1967 for illegal import of prohibited goods which carries a fine between 10 and 20 times the value of the smuggled goods or a maximum three years in jail, or both.
Fortunately, China, which is the largest importer of ivory tusks in the world, is in the process of banning all ivory trade and processing by the end of this year.
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