Hong Kong: Major Ivory Smuggling Bust

Custom officials in Hong Kong seized more than 1,000 parts from endangered animal in a shipment from Nigeria on Tuesday, including 1,120 ivory tusks, 13 rhino horns, and five leopard skin pelts.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the 2.5 ton, USD $5.3 million seizure resulted from a tip-off from mainland Chinese authorities. A month ago, a shipment from Togo weighing more than 2 tons was also seized. Its estimated value was USD $2.5 million.

African ivory exports have surged because of Chinese presence on the continent, according to wildlife activists. The Chinese use ivory to make ornaments and believe rhino horn can cure diseases -- though no medical evidence supports that. Ivory is sold for USD $910 per pound, or more than $50,000 per tusk, on the black market.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) reported that illegal ivory trading has doubled since 2007.

Hong Kong has made several large seizures of smuggled animal products recently, including a USD $1.4 million shipment from Kenya in January.

The ivory smuggled through Hong Kong is believed intended for sale in mainland China and Thailand.

According to KOMO News, Trafficking endangered animal products in Hong Kong is punishable by up to two years in prison and a maximum fine of USD $645,000, however no arrests have been made regarding Tuesday's bust.