April 30, 2019 / 9:07 AM / 4 months ago

Malaysia torches nearly four tonnes of ivory

Seized ivory is seen before being destroyed at a waste management centre in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia, April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin

SEREMBAN, Malaysia (Reuters) - Malaysia on Wednesday torched nearly four tonnes of elephant tusks and ivory products as part of an effort to stop smugglers using the country as a conduit to China and elsewhere in Asia, a minister said.

Conservationists say Malaysia is a favored transit point for the illegal flow of ivory between Africa and Asia.

Authorities seized 3.92 tonnes of tusks and products worth about 13.3 million ringgit ($3.22 million) at Malaysian airports and ports between 2011 and 2017, said the minister for water, Land and natural resources, Xavier Jayakumar.

“Smugglers use Malaysia as a transport hub, where they are shipped before being sent to other countries such as Hong Kong, Vietnam and China,” he told reporters.

The contraband ivory was burned at a big incinerator to ensure it stays off the black market, Xavier said.

Malaysian officials in August seized 50 rhinoceros horns bound for Vietnam, valued at nearly $12 million.

China banned the sale of ivory within its borders in 2017, but conservationists say it has failed to deter smugglers.

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Robert Birsel

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