Hong Kong makes $1.4M ivory bust, 3rd since Oct.

AP News
Posted: Jan 04, 2013 5:22 AM
Hong Kong makes $1.4M ivory bust, 3rd since Oct.

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong authorities have made their third big seizure of illegal ivory in three months, confiscating more than a ton of elephant tusks worth $1.4 million, customs officials said Friday.

Customs officers seized 779 pieces of ivory weighing 1,323 kilograms (2,916 pounds) in a shipping container that arrived at Hong Kong's port from Kenya after passing through Malaysia.

The officers discovered the ivory after X-raying the container, which was declared to be carrying architectural stones. Forty sacks holding the ivory were found inside five wooden crates, hidden under rocks.

The investigation is still continuing. No one has been arrested.

The discovery on Oct. 20 of nearly four tons in two shipments worth $3.4 million was the city's biggest seizure in a single operation. A shipment found in November was about the same size as the one found Thursday.

Hong Kong authorities also confiscated a shipment of ivory worth $2.2 million in 2011.

Wildlife activists say strong demand and high prices for ivory, which can fetch up to $1,000 a pound, have driven elephant poaching to record levels. Most illegal ivory is believed to be obtained through the wildlife trade in Africa and smuggled to China and Thailand for use as ornamental items.