Malaysia incinerated close to four tons of ivory today that was confiscated during 15 law enforcement raids taken over a seven-year period.
The ivory destroyed today included 3.7 tons of tusks and 228.89kg of partly processed ivory, including beads, chopsticks, uncarved blocks, and jewlery. All of the ivory confiscated is of African Elephant origin.
Today’s event was the second destruction of seized ivory in Malaysia, which has come under increasing scrutiny for its role in the transshipment of African ivory to Asia.
“Seizures and destruction of contraband is welcomed but only by weeding out those culpable, can we end the decade-long problem of Malaysia being used as a prominent transit hub,” Kanitha Krishnasamy, Traffic Director of Southeast Asia said in a statement.
Most of the ivory destroyed today was seized in 2016. The single biggest enforcement case took place in 2011 when 664 pieces of whole and partial tusks weighing 1.6 tons were seized. The first ivory destruction event in April 2016 involved 9.55 tons of elephant tusks.
The illicit consignments from 15 cases originated from countries including Mozambique, Zambia, and Nigeria, and were reportedly destined for Vietnam and China. Twelve of these were made at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, a transit point of choice for wildlife smugglers. The airport has seen its fair share of wildlife commodities being smuggled in or through the country from Africa, including shipments of ivory, rhino horns, African pangolin scales, as well as critically endangered tortoises.
These incidences highlight the increasingly critical role the air transport industry plays in the global illicit ivory trade. The enforcement actions were taken by both the Royal Malaysian Customs and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (PERHILITAN).
Separately, PERHILITAN also revealed that three nationals from Malaysia, Vietnam, and China, respectively were arrested in enforcement cases outside a port or airport in 2016. All were prosecuted for illegal possession of a total of 112 tusks and received fines amounting to USD 45,320.
Efforts taken by Malaysia to tackle this trade will be crucial in the global fight against the illegal ivory trade. The topic will be among the many being debated at the 18th CITES CoP Conference as part of the report on the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS).
The 2019 ETIS report places Malaysia in the same Group 1 cluster as Nigeria and Mozambique; two countries that have commonly been a part of the trade route for ivory and other wildlife seizures made in Malaysia. The three countries are clustered together for the first time, collectively having the second largest weight value of seized ivory, and indicating a high frequency and scale of ivory moving through and from these countries.
The Minister also told press that Malaysia would incinerate rhino horns it had previously seized, adding that this would take place only after the government received reports on the specimens it has sent for identification to South Africa. In December, Malaysia incinerated 2.8 tons of African pangolin scales.
In July 2017, Hong Kong seized 7.2 tons of ivory from Malaysia, and in September many tonnes of ivory was found in Sepanggar Port, Sabah, on its way from Nigeria to China.
The stockpile destroyed today was audited by the Ministry’s Internal Audit Unit, its Integrity Unit and PERHILITAN.
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