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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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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.

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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

Malaysia Launches Vaccination Campaign After 1st Polio Infection in 27 Years

The last case of polio registered in Malaysia occurred in 1992. Eight years later, the country was declared polio-free along with the other nations in the Western Pacific Region

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FILE - An Indian medical volunteer administers a dose of polio vaccine to a child in Hyderabad, India, Jan. 29, 2017. (Representational image). VOA

Malaysian health authorities on Monday launched a vaccination campaign in rural areas of the jungle-covered island of Borneo after detecting the first case of polio since the Southeast Asian country declared itself free of the viral disease in 2000.

The infected is a three-month-old boy in the town of Tuaran, who was hospitalized with fever and muscle weakness and tested positive for the virus on December 6, the Director-General of Malaysia’s Health Ministry, Noor Hisham Abdullah, said in a statement issued on Sunday.

“The patient is currently under treatment in an isolation ward and in a stable condition, but still requires respiratory support,” the official added in his statement.

Malaysia is the second Asian country to have recorded a polio infection this year after the Philippines, which declared an outbreak of the circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) on September 19, reports Efe news.

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A child receiving vaccine drops. Wikimedia Commons

According to Noor Hisham, tests conducted by the World Health Organization’s Polio Regional Reference Laboratory in Melbourne showed that the virus detected in the Malaysian infant was genetically linked to the strain in the Philippines, which neighbours Borneo.

Noor Hisham said that a survey of polio-infected children in Sabah, one of Malaysia’s two states located on the north of Borneo, the world’s third-largest island, found that 23 out of 199 children aged between two months and 15 years had not been vaccinated.

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“This is a worrying situation, as the spread of polio can only be stopped with immunization,” he said. “Vaccination rates should always be higher than 95 per cent to prevent infection.”

The last case of polio registered in Malaysia occurred in 1992. Eight years later, the country was declared polio-free along with the other nations in the Western Pacific Region. (IANS)