Ivory worth R12m seized at Cape airport

2012-07-11 22:24

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Johannesburg - The 46 elephant tusks seized at the Cape Town Airport were worth around R12m, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said on Wednesday.

The number of illegal ivory possession cases in Cape Town was worrying, said IFAW elephant programme director Jason Bell.

"[This] is fuelling concerns that [Cape Town] may be a fast-developing cog for ivory transit in the wheel of wildlife crime," he said.

This was the fifth multi-million rand ivory smuggling attempt discovered in the city in the last nine months, said Bell.

The ivory was found hidden in two shipping containers headed for Hong Kong during a routine inspection by airport officials.

Two men were arrested and would appear in the Bellville Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

It was unclear where the ivory was coming from.

"Ivory trafficking, like drugs and arms, enriches international criminal syndicates and requires authorities to exercise the same sort of vigilance if it is to be controlled," said Bell.

Officials reported that most of the smuggled goods were taken to China, where black-market tusk trade was steadily growing, he said.

The international wildlife monitoring agency Traffic has described 2011 as the worst ever for ivory seizures, with around 24.3 tons of ivory recovered worldwide.

- SAPA
Read more on:    ifaw  |  cape town  |  ivory  |  conservation
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