Malaysia on Thursday destroyed 9.5 tonnes of elephant ivory it had
seized over the years, which authorities hope will help deter
smugglers who have long used the country as a trans-shipment point.
The huge pile of African elephant tusks, estimated to be worth
US$20mil, was first fed into in an industrial crusher to be
pulverised, and then incinerated in a giant furnace in Port Dickson in
Malaysia has previously announced in Parliament that 4,624 ivory tusks
were confiscated between 2011 and 2014.
“This is our first-ever ivory destruction. We want to send a strong
message to the world that Malaysia does not compromise in protecting
endangered species,” Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk
Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told AFP.
The international ivory trade, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed
since 1989 after the population of African elephants declined from
millions in the mid-20th century to just 600,000 by the end of the
But poachers and smugglers have continued to exploit demand, mainly
from Asia and particularly China, where ivory is highly prized for
medicinal and decorative uses.
Malaysia, a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species (CITES), has seized a number of shipments over the
years, mostly by sea.
In March, officials said they had confiscated 159kg of ivory smuggled
by passengers aboard commercial flights.
Wan Junaidi said the tusks destroyed Thursday originated from 11
African countries ranging from Ghana to Tanzania.
They were publicly destroyed to deter smugglers, he said, adding that
it was partly in response to questions raised by conservationists over
the fate of seized ivory.
“I do not want any of the seized ivory lost. If the ivory is no longer
needed to be kept for evidence, we will destroy it,” he said.
The event was witnessed by foreign diplomats and conservation groups.
“We look forward to these good intentions being bolstered with
concrete actions to tackle the factors that have made Malaysia a key
transit point in the global ivory trade,” said Kanitha Krishnasamy,
programme manager for TRAFFIC in South-East Asia. – AFP