In 1 week time Thai customs have seized 2 massive ivory shipments passing through Thailand, both en route to Laos.
The first seizure happened on Saturday 18th April 2015 at the Bangkok sea port: 4 tons of ivory (739 elephant tusks) were found hidden in bean sacks originating from DRC, in what authorities said was the biggest bust in the country’s history. The authorities received a tip-off and had tracked the containers from DRC. The shipment, labeled as beans, was shipped out of Congo in February and went through Malaysia before reaching the Bangkok port.
Exactly 1 week later, on 25th April 2015, Thai Customs seized 3.1 tons of ivory (511 elephant tusks) hidden in tea leaf sacks from Kenya, this being the second-biggest bust in the country’s history. The shipment was seized at a major port in Chonburi province in eastern Thailand. Once again the authorities acted on a tip-off, and had tracked the containers from Kenya. The ivory was shipped out of Kenya on March 24 and went through ports in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore before coming to Thailand.
What these disturbing seizures clearly tell us is that in spite of all the conferences and summits, pledges and action plans, organized crime syndicates are still effortlessly orchestrating the industrial-scale poaching of Africa’s elephants and the trafficking of their ivory to Asia.
It is a pity Thai customs decided to seize the containers rather than conduct a controlled delivery of these shipments to their final destination. Another lost opportunity to gather intelligence on the syndicate responsible for the shipments. It is to be hoped the Thai authorities are cooperating with Tanzanian, Kenyan and Laotian authorities to at least investigate the known senders and recipients.
PHOTO BY PORNPROM SATRABHAYA AND PATTARACHAI PREECHAPANICH