Custom officials seized 46 elephant tusks in Cape Town on July 9, 2012. The tusks, valued at about US$1,5-million, were hidden behind boxes of wine in two shipping containers destined for Hong Kong. Two men were arrested and appeared in court in Cape Town the following day.
“This is fifth ivory related incident linked to Cape Town since last November,” said Jason Bell, Director of IFAW’s Elephant Programme. “Like all international trafficking we know that seizures reveal only the tip of the iceberg compared to the true scale of the problem. Given the numbers of ivory-crimes linked to Cape Town in the past months, it’s high time we began worrying about the city as a transit point for illegal ivory.”
Media reports of ivory related crime since November include:
- Seizure in Hong Kong in mid-November 2011 of a mixed consignment of elephant ivory items and rhinoceros horn, valued at a total of US$17,4-million. Seized from a ship that had departed from Cape Town.
- Seizure in Port Klang, Malaysia in January 2012 of elephant tusks weighing 500 kgs and valued at US$760,000 hidden in a container labeled “polyester and strand matting”. Port of origin, Cape Town.
- Appearance in court in Cape Town in January 2012 of two Chinese nationals caught in illegal possession of 15 full elephant tusks, and 22 partial tusks among other ivory items.
- Arrest in Cape Town in March 2012 of a Chinese national for possession of ivory and elephant tusk.
- Conviction in April 2012 of a Cape Town curio shop owner for illegal possession of ivory worth about US$4-million.
- Seizure on 11 July 2012 of 46 elephant ivory tusks, reported value US$1,5-million, found in shipping containers in a Cape Town storage facility and intended for delivery to Hong Kong.
Bell said the illegal ivory trade was constantly searching to develop new transit points from which to smuggle their goods.