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Malaysian Authorities Destroys Four Metric Tons of Seized Elephant Tusks and Ivory Products

“These were seizures from 15 cases and from the total, 3,692.4 kg were complete and incomplete tusks while the remaining 228.89 kg were incomplete ivory products”

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elephant tusks, ivory products
Staff at a government-run waste management facility outside Seremban, Malaysia arrange seized ivory tusks before destroying them, April 30, 2019. RFA

Malaysian authorities on Tuesday destroyed around four metric tons of seized elephant tusks and ivory products thought to have been destined for China, Hong Kong and Vietnam, in trying to stop the illegal wildlife trade via Malaysia, officials said.

The ivory pieces with an estimated total value of 13.3 million ringgit (U.S. $3.2 million) were items of contraband confiscated at Malaysian ports and airports from 2011 to 2017, said Xavier Jayakumar, minister for Water, Land and Natural Resources.

“We will incinerate these case exhibits, the proscribed method for such cases, to ensure the exhibits stay off the black market,” he told reporters at a government-run waste disposal and management facility in Negeri Sembilan state, about an hour’s drive from the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

“These were seizures from 15 cases and from the total, 3,692.4 kg were complete and incomplete tusks while the remaining 228.89 kg were incomplete ivory products,” he added.

ivory products, elephant tusks
The ivory pieces with an estimated total value of 13.3 million ringgit (U.S. $3.2 million) were items of contraband confiscated at Malaysian ports and airports from 2011 to 2017. Wikimedia

Authorities believe the contraband was being smuggled from Africa to China, Hong Kong and Vietnam when they intercepted the various shipments at the Malaysian ports, Xavier said.

“It’s quite hard to find the syndicate involved in the cases because the suspects arrested are usually not syndicate members but those involved in the shipment of the contraband,” he said. “Therefore, a special team was formed to investigate and identify the syndicates involved in the cases.”

Since 1978, Malaysia has been a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, Xavier said, adding that the country was committed “to this international responsibility to curb illegal ivory trading.”

Apart from working to combat the illegal trade in elephant tusks, Malaysia last August seized 50 rhinoceros horns bound for Vietnam. Their estimated value was almost U.S. $12 million.

And in February this year, authorities in the Malaysian Borneo state of Sabah made a record haul when they seized 30 metric tons (66,139 pounds) in pangolin parts and products, according to Traffic, a Britain-based wildlife trafficking monitoring group.

elephants tusks, ivory products
Sabah made a record haul when they seized 30 metric tons (66,139 pounds) in pangolin parts and products. Wikimedia

Regional hub

Malaysia’s proximity to the world’s major ivory consumers, China and Thailand, as well as its efficient and well-developed port network, are factors behind why the country is used as a Southeast Asian transit hub for ivory smuggling, Traffic reported.

The NGO would like to see Malaysia implement a National Ivory Action Plan (NIAP) to fight the problem, said Kanitha Krishnasamy, Traffic’s regional director. Traffic has also urged Malaysia to intensify its collaboration and communication with ivory source and consumer countries.

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“Collaborative action, including risk profiling and targeting, as well as timely communication between source and consumer countries have already resulted in a number of successful seizures globally, and indeed forms part of Malaysia’s National Ivory Action Plan that was submitted to CITES pursuant to the recommendations of the CITES Standing Committee,” Krishnasamy told BenarNews.

“Such measures must continue, conducted in tandem with other essential actions, without which Malaysia will continue to be a prominent player in the illegal ivory trade.” (RFA)

Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

Next Story

In a Sudden Move, Malaysia’s King Abdicates Throne

The Council of Rulers is expected to meet soon to pick the next king.

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Malaysia
Malaysia King Sultan Muhammad V salutes during the national anthem at the opening of the 14th parliament session at the Parliament house in Kuala Lumpur, July 17, 2018. VOA

Malaysian King Sultan Muhammad V abdicated on Sunday in an unexpected move, after just two years on the throne.

The palace said in a statement that the 49-year-old ruler had resigned as Malaysia’s 15th king with immediate effect, cutting short his five-year term. No reason was given in the statement.

It marked the first abdication in the nation’s history.

Sultan Muhammad V, ruler of northeast Kelantan state, took his oath of office in December 2016, becoming one of Malaysia’s youngest constitutional monarchs.

Malaysia King
Malaysia’s King Sultan Muhammad V at the Trooping of Colours ceremony.

He is said to have married a 25-year-old former Russian beauty queen in November while on a two-month medical leave. Reports in Russian and British media and on social media featured pictures of the wedding, which reportedly took place in Moscow. Neither the sultan, the palace nor the government had officially confirmed the wedding.

Speculation that Sultan Muhammad V would step down emerged this past week, shortly after he returned from his leave, but Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Friday that he was unaware of any abdication plans.

Also Read: Muslims in Malaysia Rally In Kuala Lumpur To Keep Status

Under a unique system maintained since Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957, nine hereditary state rulers take turns as the country’s king for five-year terms.

The Council of Rulers is expected to meet soon to pick the next king.

The monarch’s role is largely ceremonial, since administrative power is vested in the prime minister and parliament. But the monarch is highly regarded, particularly among the ethnic Malay Muslim majority, as the supreme upholder of Malay tradition. (VOA)