A man from Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province was sentenced to four years behind bars on Tuesday and fined 40,000 yuan ($5,912) for illegally smuggling 52 ivory items from South Africa to China.
The smuggler surnamed Liu failed to declare the items to customs when he flew from Cape Town to Beijing in June 2014 with the contraband hidden in his luggage and on his person, China Central Television (CCTV) reported Tuesday.
Beijing’s No. 4 Intermediate People’s Court ruled that Liu should serve a four-year sentence for smuggling products made from precious and rare species, and the ivory items were confiscated, said CCTV. The report added that the 10 kilograms of ivory were smuggled in iron boxes or hidden in Liu’s shoes.
Judges said the ivory products, which Liu bought for 8,900 yuan, would be worth more than 420,000 yuan on the Chinese market.
In March this year, China’s State Forestry Administration put its tightest restrictions ever on the ivory industry, temporarily banning the import of all ivory products, no matter where they are from.
Before this ban, the trade and sale of ivory carvings was legal only if the ivory came from items imported to China before the country signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in 1981 or from the 62 tons of ivory bought from four African countries in 2008, as permitted by the convention.
Raw elephant ivory and products made from ivory can only be processed and sold at designated places by designated vendors, and each product must be individually cataloged and tracked with its own unique photo ID, the Xinhua News Agency reported.