Where is the seized ivory? (Malaysia)


Free Malaysia Today

Date Published
Nature Alert says Perhilitan and the Customs Department are stockpiling and not destroying ivory it confiscated two years ago.
PETALING JAYA: Nature Alert is asking what has become of the 11 separate shipments of highly illegal ivory totalling 24 tonnes that was confiscated at Port Klang in December 2012.
Sean Whyte, CEO of Nature Alert, said the shipment represented more than 1,000 slaughtered elephants.
“No independent audit of the ivory has ever been conducted,” he added. “If rumours are to be believed, some ivory may have been misappropriated while in the possession of Perhilitan and/or the Customs Department.”
Whyte made reference to a National Geographic episode aired on Sept 1 that showed Malaysia’s Port Klang as a transshipment hub for the ivory.
“Exactly how many ivory has been confiscated is unknown because the government keeps this a secret. Why, is anyone’s guess.”
Speculating that the actual number of ivory was probably much higher, Whyte said he was curious as to why there was so much inaction by the authorities.
“Neither Perhilitan nor the customs officials have managed to capture and prosecute a single individual,” he said.
“Is this due to the incompetence of these officials or could the wholesale absence of arrests suggest to you something much more sinister?”
Whyte noted that “Malaysia remains one of the 20 countries singled out by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) for its failure to have and implement an action plan concerning elephant poaching and the ivory trade.”
He asked why CITES had not placed sanctions on Malaysia since Perhilitan had done “so little” to protect the wildlife it was responsible for in Malaysia.
“How many more elephants will be slaughtered before CITES’ Standing Committee members pluck up the guts to use sanctions as a legitimate means of saving elephants and deterring the ivory mafia?”
He likened CITES to being “as toothless as a worm” although even worms had “guts and they perform a very useful function for the environment.”
In a tone of frustration, Whyte said, “There’s more likelihood of finding an elephant on the moon than there is of CITES punishing Malaysia and others.”
He appealed to Perhilitan to come clean about its stocks of ivory and to arrest the perpetrators of the ivory trade.
He also told Perhilitan to explain why it refused to destroy the ivory and why there had been no independent audit of the ivory by expert scientists.
Whyte lamented that other NGOs like the World Wildlife Fund Malaysia and the Malaysian Nature Society had not done enough to stem the trade of ivory either.
In the meantime, Nature Alert is appealing to Perhilitan, Interpol Malaysia, CITES and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to answer the many questions surrounding the stockpiled ivory with complete transparency.