Three Chinese nationals have been arrested in Tanzania after authorities found some 1.9 tons of illegally-poached ivory goods in their home, which could represent the deaths of more than 350 elephants. 706 ivory tusks were found in the home, apparently hidden among garlic-filled snail shells in an attempt to thwart authorities.
This case has many factors at play, and has been covered by a wide range of news sources; Chinese, African, and generally-anti-poaching sites alike. We’ll start with the Global Times, which reports:
Spokesman Hong Lei [remarked] in response to a question about three Chinese citizens apprehended in Tanzania with a considerable amount of ivory in their residence.
China had paid close attention to the case, Hong said. The Chinese ambassador in Tanzania had immediately checked the information and made a statement strongly condemning poaching and ivory smuggling, and promising cooperation in fighting the crimes, Hong said.
Nature World News also covered the story, as well as the Chinese nationals’ attempts to slink away from the crime by making lame excuses and bribing authorities:
Media reports have identified Chinese nationals Che Jinzhan, Xu Fujie and Huang Qin in connection with the address where the raid occurred. The men said they had nothing to do with ivory smuggling and only ran a small garlic business, according to Wildlife News, which added that the men said they were storing the ivory for friends.
The authorities who conducted the raid refused a bribe of 30 million Tanzanian shillings ($18,750), [ Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Khamis Kagasheki] said, praising the officers for not letting the men go free.
The “I’m only holding it for a friend” excuse is for suburban teenagers caught with drugs, not for Chinese ivory smugglers caught with nearly 2 tons of the stuff. To make things just a bit more incriminating for the three Chinese men, WildLifeNews reports as well:
Apart from the ivory the authorities also discovered special weighing equipment and a specially converted Noah minibus which was used to transport ivory and elephant tusks. The minibus also had two different number plates with one set being used for legitimate daytime business and the second set being used for the illegal transport of the tusks.
Ivory is in high demand throughout China and is used in stupid ornamental objects and ineffective herbal-ish remedies alike, at the expensive of an utterly massive number of dead elephants a continent away.
[Image via Flickr]