8 Aug 2013

Ivory, rhino horns seized in Hong Kong

10:11 am on 8 August 2013

Hong Kong customs have seized an illegal shipment of elephant tusks, rhino horns and leopard skins worth more than $US5 million.

The haul included more than 1000 tusks and was the second seizure of endangered species parts in a month in the Asian financial hub, home to one of the busiest ports in the world.

Acting on a tip off from mainland authorities customs officials discovered the illicit goods hidden in a cargo container at the city's Kwai Chung terminal port.

The container was officially declared to contain "red cam process wood" exported from Nigeria, AFP reports.

Ports control head Vincent Wong said on Wednesday crates inside the wooden blocks contained 1,120 ivory tusks, 13 rhino horns and five leopard skins. No arrests were made.

Mr Wong said the shipment had passed through Shanghai and believed Hong Kong was not the final destination.

"The items can be temporarily stored in Hong Kong and then when there is a buyer who can afford it, the smugglers can smuggle the goods to them," Mr Wong said.

Last month, more than 1,000 tusks, mainly from baby elephants, were seized by the city's customs.