- Beijing Forest Police have confiscated around 1,773 pounds of ivory, 24 pounds of rhino horn and 35 bear paws, worth about $4 million.
- The police have also arrested 16 suspected members of the involved wildlife smuggling ring.
- Ivory was being smuggled from Japan to mainland China via HongKong, the police have uncovered.
In a major wildlife trafficking crackdown, the Beijing Forest Police have confiscated around 1,773 pounds of ivory, 24 pounds of rhino horn and 35 bear paws, worth about $4 million, according to a statement by TRAFFIC. They have also arrested 16 suspected members of the involved wildlife smuggling ring.
This is the biggest seizure so far in terms of the scale of the smuggling operations behind it, Beijing Forest Police told reporters at a press conference on October 12, according to TRAFFIC.
“The Beijing Forest Police operation is a clear demonstration of the Chinese Government’s commitment to crack down on illegal wildlife trade and support international efforts to protect endangered species. As a Chinese proverb aptly says: ‘Action is far more powerful than words,” Zhou Fei, Head of TRAFFIC’s China Programme, said in the statement.
The police crackdown, which lasted three months, uncovered that ivory was being smuggled from Japan to mainland China via HongKong. The gang used antique shops in places like Beijing and Guangdong as cover for their operations, according to TRAFFIC, and used online illegal trading and couriers for distribution of the smuggled goods.
“It is possible all the wildlife products in the case originated in Japan, where the popularity of legally owned items such as ivory and rhino horns from the 1980s and earlier has plummeted and people have been selling family heirlooms and other goods into the marketplace,” TRAFFIC reports.
Since 2013, Beijing Forest Police has arrested 108 individuals suspected to be involved in wildlife trafficking, according to TRAFFIC.
Last week, the “Queen of Ivory”, 66-year old Yang Fen Glan, was arrested in Tanzania following her alleged involvement in the smuggling of 706 elephant tusks.