KUALA LUMPUR, September 3, 2011 (AFP) – Malaysia has seized more than 1,000 African elephant tusks in two separate shipments in the past two months, reports said Saturday. The wildlife watchdog says that the illegal ivory trade has been rising globally since 2004 largely due to increasing demand in China, where ivory is often ground up and used in traditional medicine. In the first incident, customs and wildlife officials seized 405 tusks in a container at the southern port of Pasir Gudang on July 8. The ship carrying the cargo was from an undisclosed African port that had been through Singapore.
A month later enforcement officials found 664 tusks in a container from the United Arab Emirates in the northern port of Butterworth.
The smugglers declared the ivory as plywood and plastics respectively in a bit to escape detection, the New Straits Times newspaper said.
Wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC has described Malaysia as a major wildlife transit hub after Hong Kong authorities seized nearly two tonnes of elephant ivory worth about $1.7 million in a shipment from Malaysia last month.