21 Oct 2012

Smuggled ivory found in containers

6:22 am on 21 October 2012

Customs officials in Hong Kong have confiscated nearly four tonnes of smuggled ivory and ivory ornaments.

Worth about $US3.4 million, the ivory was hidden in two separate containers from Kenya and Tanzania.

The seizure followed a tip-off from mainland police, who have since arrested seven people.

The BBC reports a recent rise in the illegal trade in ivory has been fuelled by demand in Asia and the Middle East. Ivory tusks are used in traditional medicine there and to make ornaments.

Customs officials said the tusks were discovered on Tuesday and Wednesday in containers marked "plastic scrap".

Under Hong Kong law, those guilty of trading in endangered species products face up to two years in prison and a huge fine.

International trade in ivory has been banned since 1989, to protect Africa's dwindling elephant population.