Twenty Years Since a Massive Ivory Seizure, What Lessons Were Learned?

Environmental News from Asia: 

  • In late June 2002, a container ship docked in Singapore with a massive shipment of ivory, which was seized.
  • It was the largest seizure of its kind since an international ban on the ivory trade had come into force in 1989, and the lessons learned from it would change the way the illegal wildlife trade was investigated and tackled.
  • But it’s unfortunate that some of the biggest lessons from that event still have not been put into practice, a new op-ed argues.
  • This article is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily of Mongabay.

In late June 2002, the container ship MOL Independence docked at a Singapore port after a voyage of almost a month from Durban in South Africa. On board was a consignment that had been on a far longer journey.

Beginning in an industrial area on the outskirts of Lilongwe, the capital of land-locked Malawi in southern Africa, the container was taken by road to the port of Beira in neighboring Mozambique and loaded onto a feeder’s vessel to Durban.

According to the Bill of Lading, its contents were stone sculptures. Acting on a tip-off from my organization, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Singapore customs officers inspected the container and discovered more than 6.2 tons of elephant ivory.

At the time, it was the largest seizure of its kind since the international ban on the ivory trade had come into force in 1989 and the lessons learned from it would change the way the illegal wildlife trade was investigated and tackled, evolving from simple seizures and the arrests of any low-ranking criminals to much wider-reaching investigations led by gathered intelligence.

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Source: Mongabay

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