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illegal blood ivory seizure

More ivory nabbed at Bangkok airport

Wolfgang Thome, eTN Uganda  Aug 23, 2009

Reports over the weekend of a major seizure of illegal blood ivory‚ alarmed the Eastern African conservation fraternity once again, when over 800 KG of allegedly Kenyan and Ugandan ivory were confiscated at Bangkok's international airport.

In a related development it was also learned, that China Arts and Crafts‚ in Hong Kong last week presented the "World's Greatest Ivory Carving Exhibition‚" frankly a lunacy of the highest order as such high profile showcasing of ivory carvings fuels the endless greed and hunger for ever more ivory in that part of the world.

This correspondent has in the past often harshly criticized not only the importers of ivory in China and other parts of the Far and South East, but also the oftentimes corrupt practices in the countries of origin, which make smuggling possible through lack of sharper controls, which abets poaching.

Also last week a similar seizure happened in Vietnam, again one should add, as only a few weeks earlier ivory, likely destined for China, was also found in Vietnam and confiscated by the Vietnamese customs.

In related developments shipments were of late impounded at the Dar es Salaam International Airport, with several arrests being made at the time including of Chinese citizens, as was ivory nabbed at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

It could at the short time available not be established, which airline flew the boxes to Bangkok but efforts are underway to find out the details and name them, to prompt them too to carry out better inspections. Carrying passengers without visa to countries around the world now attracts stiff fines and maybe carrying illegal cargo too should attract similar penalties in the future.

Since the relaxation of the CITES ban on the sale of Southern African ivory, claimed to be Œlegal‚ and therefore available for sale after CITES changes the rules during their last major meeting, poaching in Eastern Africa started to rise again, as past articles on these sad stories by this correspondent repeatedly explained, with some of the blood ivory then first being smuggled south‚ where it is often alleged to be made legal‚ on paper before being exported to countries where the dealing in and processing of ivory is still not prohibited by law. Forensic tests are now being conducted, it is understood, to establish the exact origin of the tusks so that the authorities in those countries too can get active and crack down on the criminal masterminds responsible for the wildlife carnage.

This writer extends his sincere thanks to the Thai authorities for being so vigilant and sending out a message to the blood ivory traders, that they better not use Bangkok as a transit point for their blood stained cargos in the future.

More ivory nabbed at Bangkok airport

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