World Bulletin/News Desk
The recent seizure of two shipping containers containing over three tons of illegally smuggled ivory indicates Cambodia is becoming a transit point on the smuggling route between Africa and East Asia, a wildlife official said Saturday.
An officer from Wildlife Alliance who did not want to be identified as he was not authorized to talk to media told the Anadolu Agency on Saturday, “Cambodia is not a destination for this ivory, it [is] a transit country, but the ivory destination should be Vietnam, Thailand or China.”
Cambodian officials seized Friday two shipping containers containing over three tons of illegally smuggled ivory, the largest ever ivory haul seized in the country.
Pen Sitha, deputy director of Sihanoukville Autonomous Port on Cambodia’s southern coast, said Friday, “After customs scanned the containers, then we saw it was not normal, so we allowed the provincial court prosecutor to check inside the containers.”
“We found many pieces of ivory hidden among beans that had been transported from Malaysia to Cambodia,” he added.
Bun Choeu, the port’s deputy director of customs, said the confiscated ivory weighed over 3,000 kilograms and would be kept at the port to await a more detailed investigation.
Friday’s massive bust follows two other large ivory seizures in Cambodia in the past three months.
In February, two men were arrested at the international airport in popular resort town Siem Reap as they attempted to smuggle nearly 80 kilograms of ivory out of the country. The following month, police found another 250 kilograms of ivory hidden in a van headed for Cambodia’s border with Vietnam. East Asia is currently the world’s largest ivory market.
“Based on these recent cases, we can confirm that Cambodia now is a target or transit country in Southeast Asia,” the Wildlife Alliance officer said.
“Having been seen by the eyes of my colleague that I sent to Sihanoukville yesterday, the ivory is recognized as African elephant tusks,” he added.
The international trade in ivory has been banned since 1989 under the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), but a thriving black market for the material exists in China and Vietnam, where it is highly prized for making intricate carvings and sculptures and can fetch up to US$2,000 per kilogram.
Last Mod: 10 Mayıs 2014, 13:07