Hong Kong seizes largest ivory haul in 30 years

Hong Kong: Hong Kong customs officials have seized 7.2 tonnes of ivory hidden under frozen fish, the government announced on Thursday.
The seizure, made at the Kwai Chung Customhouse Cargo Examination Compound on Tuesday, originated from Malaysia and was the largest seizure in 30 years.
It is estimated to be worth some HK$72 million ($9.2million), the government said.
“Through risk assessment, customs officers inspected a 40-foot container declared to contain frozen fish arriving from Malaysia. Upon inspection, customs officers found the ivory tusks beneath the frozen fish cartons inside the container,” the government said in a statement.
A man and two women aged between 42 and 57 from a trading company were arrested and police are continuing investigations.
“Hong Kong Customs are to be warmly congratulated on this important seizure, but it is vital for a full and thorough investigation to take place in the aftermath to find out who was orchestrating this massive movement of contraband,” said Dr Yannick Kuehl, Regional Director for East Asia of anti-animal trafficking NGO Traffic.
Hong Kong is currently looking to phase out the domestic ivory trade within the next five years, which some are arguing is too slow compared to the rest of mainland China, which is looking to end the trade this year.
Trading in an endangered species without a licence carries a maximum sentence of $5 million and two years’ imprisonment. — dpa