Malaysia ar­rests Viet­namese man for ivory smug­gling

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Malaysian au­thor­i­ties have ar­rested a Viet­namese man and seized a stash of ele­phant ivory worth al­most $70,000, an of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day, high­light­ing the coun­try’s role as a hub for the wildlife-smug­gling trade. The man was de­tained Fri­day at Kuala Lumpur’s main in­ter­na­tional air­port af­ter fly­ing into the coun­try from Ad­dis Ababa in Ethiopia, said air­port cus­toms chief Hamzah Sun­dang. Of­fi­cials stopped the sus­pected smug­gler­whose iden­tity was not re­vealed in the air­port ter­mi­nal as he was act­ing sus­pi­ciously.

When they checked his lug­gage, they found 10 pack­ages con­tain­ing ele­phant ivory weigh­ing 36 kilo­grams that had been cut into small pieces, which ac­tivists said was likely go­ing to be fash­ioned into jew­elry. Au­thor­i­ties said the haul was worth about 300,000 ring­git (al­most $70,000). The man had been due to travel on to Viet­nam, where there is high de­mand for ivory which is prized lo­cally for dec­o­ra­tive pur­poses and in tra­di­tional medicine.

The lat­est seizure un­der­lines Malaysia’s role as a tran­sit point in the global wildlife smug­gling trade. Ear­lier this month, Hong Kong cus­toms of­fi­cials dis­cov­ered 7.2 tons of ivory tusks in a ship­ment from Malaysia. The global trade in ele­phant ivory, with rare ex­cep­tions, has been out­lawed since 1989 af­ter pop­u­la­tions of the African gi­ants dropped from mil­lions in the mid-20th cen­tury to around 600,000 by the end of the 1980s. Any­one found guilty of im­port­ing rare an­i­mals or their parts into Malaysia can be jailed for up to three years and fined. Kanitha Kr­ish­nasamy, act­ing re­gional di­rec­tor for wildlife trade mon­i­tor­ing net­work Traf­fic, hailed the lat­est dis­cov­ery by Malaysian au­thor­i­ties, which fol­lows re­cent seizures of rhino horns and pan­golins. She said the oper­a­tions were “crip­pling il­le­gal traders from prof­it­ing from this busi­ness”.—AFP

PORT DICK­SON, Malaysia: This file pic­ture shows seized ivory tusks kept in­side a con­tainer be­fore be­ing pub­licly crushed dur­ing an event at the Kualti Alam Waste Man­age­ment cen­tre in Port Dick­son, out­side of Kuala Lumpur.—AFP

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