Malaysia destroys huge ivory trove

Malaysia has destroyed 9.5 tonnes of elephant ivory it seized over the years, which authorities hope will help deter smugglers who have long used the country as a trans-shipment point.

The huge pile of African elephant tusks, estimated to be worth $20 million, was first fed into in an industrial crusher to be pulverised, and then incinerated in a giant furnace in Port Dickson in southern Malaysia.

Malaysia has previously announced in Parliament that 4,624 ivory tusks were confiscated between 2011 and 2014.

“This is our first-ever ivory destruction. We want to send a strong message to the world that Malaysia does not compromise in protecting endangered species,” Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told AFP.

The international ivory trade, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after the population of African elephants declined from millions in the mid-20th century to just 600,000 by the end of the 1980s.

But poachers and smugglers have continued to exploit demand, mainly from Asia and particularly China, where ivory is highly prized for medicinal and decorative uses.

Malaysia, a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), has seized a number of shipments over the years, mostly by sea.

-More at France24

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