In the biggest every seizure of Ivory, the Hong Kong customs has seized Nearly eight tons of illegal ivory tusks.
The tusks, which are worth an estimated $9 million (HK$72 million), were found hidden beneath frozen fish cartons aboard a container ship sailing from Malaysia, the Hong Kong Customs office said in a statement.
The former British colony situated at the mouth of China’s Pearl River Delta is one of the world’s top global transit hubs for endangered species and their products, such as shark fin, pangolin skin and rosewood furniture. Hong Kong’s agriculture, fisheries and conservation department said it was investigating the shipment’s final destination, probably a nearby country.
Hong Kong has long held the reputation as being the “dark heart of the ivory trade,” a port city that’s less regulated and provides a gateway to China.
The trade has slowed down since a treaty banned international trade in 1989, but dozens of shops in Hong Kong are permitted to sell domestic ivory that predates the ban.
Regulatory loopholes allow traders to use a stockpile of legal ivory as cover to smuggle illegal ivory to unsuspecting buyers, say groups such as the World Wildlife Fund and WildAid.
Hong Kong has been trading ivory for more than 150 years, fashioned into jewelry and sculptures, but activists say illegal poaching is pushing elephants toward extinction.
The Seizure is the largest haul of contraband ivory in more than 30 years.