wild places | wild happenings | wild news
make a difference for our wild places

home | links | search the site
  all articles latest | past | articles by topics | search wildnews
wild news on wildsingapore
  TRAFFIC 7 Jul 06
More than 5 tonnes of ivory from Tanzania seized in Taiwan within three days

Yahoo News 4 Jul 06
Taiwan seizes huge haul of smuggled ivory from Tanzania

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan custom officials have confiscated more than two tonnes of elephant tusks from Tanzania in what they said could be the largest illegal shipment of ivory uncovered on the island.

The ivory, which included 350 tusks and some cut pieces, was discovered in two containers bound for Manila from the eastern African country via Taiwan's southern Kaohsiung harbour, Kuo Shih-hsien, spokesman for Kaohsiung customs told reporters.

The ivory, valued at around 100 million Taiwan dollars (3.08 million US), is the largest haul of its kind here since 2000 when 332 elephant tusks weighing 2,160 kilograms (4,762 pounds) were uncovered.

Another Kaohsiung customs official identified by his surname Wang told AFP a third container, also bound for Manila, was also suspected of holding ivory.

"We highly suspect it also contains elephant tusks. If proved, then the shipment would be the largest shipment of ivory confiscated in Taiwan," Wang said.

Taiwan bans transportation and trading of elephant tusks, and people found guilty of violating the wildlife protection law face jail terms of six years and fines of 1.5 million Taiwan dollars, according to the Council of Agriculture.

Because of pressure from Beijing which regards Taiwan was part of its territory, the island is not a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which banned trade in ivory in 1989.

"But as we are a member of the global village, we have been working to comply with wildlife protection measures being adopted by other countries," the official said.

TRAFFIC 7 Jul 06
More than 5 tonnes of ivory from Tanzania seized in Taiwan within three days

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia... Taiwanese authorities have confiscated more than five tonnes of ivory within three days in the Kaohsiung Harbour, marking the largest seizure record of ivory in the island's wildlife crime enforcement history.

Kaohsiung Customs should be commended for their efforts as well as for their the urgent follow-up measures now underway with their counterparts in Tanzania and the Philippines, as well as with Interpol," said TRAFFIC East Asia - Taipei Programme Officer Joyce Wu. "Ivory smuggling is a lucrative trade handled by highly-organized smuggling rings, and this can only be combated through increased intelligence exchange to catalyse quick, efficient and co-ordinated responses."

Shipping documentation revealed that the illegal consignment originated from Tanzania in eastern Africa and was held in transit in the port of Penang in Malaysia before reaching Kaohsiung, where it also remained in transit, prior to its ultimate destination in the Philippines. Paperwork from the cargo company indicated that the goods were destined for Manila.

After the cargo had remained in Kaohsiung harbour unattended for three weeks, Customs officials decided to inspect the container on 6 July and discovered 744 pieces of ivory (including whole tusks), weighing a total of 3026 kg, hidden in wooden boxes.

This confiscation took place two days after Kaohsiung Customs officials seized two and a half tonnes of ivory, also from Tanzania. That raid uncovered 18 wooden boxes with ivory. The shipment, also bound for Manila, was intercepted at the same Taiwanese harbour.

The route that these shipments took provides some clues into the intricate workings of illegal wildlife trade operations. After leaving Tanzania, the first shipment was routed through Singapore, where it remained in port transit for a period of time. It then departed for Manila, and was then re-routed to Taiwan. It went on to Manila again, but returned to Taiwan without the contraband cargo being offloaded. It was at this point that the confiscation was made in Kaohsiung.

Both the shipments were sent by the same exporter, but were for two different importers in the Philippines.

The ivory's routing through the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, comes at a time when South-east Asian nations have formed the ASEAN Widlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) to work more closely together to confront increasingly sophisticated wildlife crime syndicates.

"We hope that they Kaohsiung Customs will link up with ASEAN-WEN contacts, as well as at the source in Tanzania, to ensure follow-up investigations," said James Compton, Director of TRAFFIC programme in Southeast Asia.

TRAFFIC is partnering with another international NGO, Wildaid, to support the operations of ASEAN-WEN. In May, a shipment of 3.9 tonnes of ivory from Cameroon was seized in authorities in Hong Kong - which means that since May this year, more than eight tonnes of ivory have been seized in Asia from African countries of origin.

Since 1990, Taiwan has banned the trade in ivory.

Asian and African elephants are listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) which prohibits all commercial trade in these species. The confiscated ivory will remain in the custody of the Taiwanese government.

ASEAN Wildlife Trade Initiative on the TRAFFIC website
Related articles on wildlife trade
about the site | email ria
  News articles are reproduced for non-profit educational purposes.

website©ria tan 2003 www.wildsingapore.com