Africa’s elephants are having quite a bit of trouble just trying to stay alive, and that’s because of the onslaught of illegal poaching by greedy individuals who want to cash on in the elephants’ valuable ivory tusks. In some cases, it has led to more elephants being born without tusks, which is thought to be an act of natural selection in progress in response to poaching.
While most countries have outlawed the stuff, there are a host of Asian countries where ivory trade is still legal and this continues to perpetuate a diverse black market. The buyers? Mostly wealthy individuals who use ivory as a status symbol to show off their riches. Other buyers think that elephant tusks have medicinal properties and can cure ailments.
In a big win for those against the ivory trade black market, however, Hong Kong authorities have put a stop to one of the largest ivory stash trades conducted there in more than three decades. More than 16,000 pounds worth of ivory tusks, valued at more than $9 million, have been confiscated.
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It’s said that the ivory tusks were being smuggled aboard a freighter ship sourced from Malaysia and were hidden underneath frozen fish cartons designed to make the suspicious ship look just like any other. On the other hand, heavier-than-normal shipping weights raised flags.
Three people have reportedly been arrested in connection to the smuggle to find out more about the stash and its origins.
Hong Kong is working on outlawing ivory trade, but since the region continues to lag behind other nations that have already moved forward with such laws, Hong Kong is currently still one of the only places where ivory can still be traded (assuming the trader adheres to certain restrictions).
All ivory trade could be banned in Hong Kong within just a few more years, but progress on such a law is slow.
While there are a lot of questions to answer still, one thing remains certain: there is a lot more illegal ivory out there. While 16,000 pounds is a lot, it’s only a small speck of the world’s ivory black market.
Worthy of note, African nations are doing everything they can to protect elephants from being killed in their natural habitat. Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf just recently signed off on a new plan to protect wild elephants. Many other nations are already taking active stances against elephant poaching and respond with severe consequences if caught.