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Chinese govt joins war against ivory smuggling

19th December 2012
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The fight against elephant tusk smuggling got a boost after the Chinese embassy in Dar es Salaam said its government was ready to work with Tanzanian authorities to combat it, including trafficking in wild animals.

An embassy official told this paper in Dar es Salaam recently that their government was willing to cooperate with Tanzania to combat ivory smuggling, adding that it attached great importance to the protection of wild animals, including elephants.

The official, who preferred anonymity,  made the remarks in the wake of reports that Chinese traders were fuelling ivory smuggling from Tanzania.

Last October AFP news agency reported that Hong Kong customs officials had seized forty-five bags containing 569 pieces of unpolished tusks weighing about 1,330 kilos in a container from Dar es Salaam port
Reacting to the reports, the official maintained that Hong Kong customs officials had already seized the smuggled ivory, whose final destination was not clear so far.

The official noted that the Chinese government attached great importance to the protection of wild animals, including elephants, and had in place a number of laws and regulations against contraband trophies and established a joint law-enforcement mechanism which includes customs and public security.
According to the official, ivory smugglers in China were liable to life imprisonment.

“The Chinese government has also played an active role in international law-enforcement cooperation to crack down on smuggling and trafficking in wild animals and related products such as ivory, which effectively curbs ivory smuggling,” he said.

He said China's unremitting efforts had paid off, as the number of illegal and criminal activities related to ivory smuggling and trafficking had declined remarkably in recent years.

Last month AFP reported that Hong Kong customs officials seized forty-five bags containing 569 pieces of unpolished tusks weighing about 1,330 kilos (2,932 pounds) in a container from Tanzania.

"These ivory tusks were concealed amongst 400 bags of sunflower seeds," group head of Ports and Maritime Command Wong Sui-hang said, according to the agency.
The tusks left Tanzania by ship and were transferred to another vessel in Dubai, before making the journey to Hong Kong, Wong said.

Prior to that  customs officers in China made the southern Chinese city's largest ivory seizure when they intercepted almost four tonnes worth about USD 3.4 million hidden in goods shipped from Kenya and Tanzania.
The event occurred in  the same month of October.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN