AUTHORITIES in Malaysia destroyed some 9.55 tonnes of elephant ivory tusks on Thursday, valued at a whopping RM80 million (US$20.4 million) from seizures made over the last 5 years.
The mass burning of the black market commodity took place during a disposal ceremony in Port Dickson in the central state of Negeri Sembilan yesterday.
Forensic analysis indicated that the ivories were derived from African countries, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Dr. Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
“Today marks the first event for Malaysia to destroy ivory seizures. The destruction is important to ensure that no one will ever profit from the contraband.
“We hope the destruction will convey a very powerful message to the world that the Malaysian government does not condone wildlife crimes,” Wan Junaidi was quoted saying in The New Straits Times yesterday.
“We are determined to join other nations to put an end to the alarming trend of poaching and smuggling of wildlife,” he told reporters.
Wan Junaidi also said Malaysia will cooperate with other countries to end wildlife poaching and smuggling, adding that the government strongly supported efforts to combat illegal wildlife trafficking, especially in the ivory trade.
“The world is facing the loss of more elephants, thus threatening the future of elephants across the continents,” he said.
Wan Junaidi said, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), over 20,000 elephants may have been poached across Africa in 2013. He added that Malaysia has actively participated in regional and international enforcement collaborations.
He also said that authorities have confiscated more than 4,000 pieces of ivory and various other wildlife species through the coordinated efforts of an international enforcement network and public information.
The Star reported Wan Junaidi saying: “Results from the forensic analysis revealed that the ivory came from Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Ghana, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan.
“However, unlike other countries identified as transit points, Malaysia does not have a domestic market for ivory or the ivory-carving industry.”