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Recent Spike in Large Seizures of Ivory, Rhino Horn, Pangolin Scales

Over the past two weeks, authorities in multiple countries have arrested smugglers and seized major shipments of illegal wildlife products in Africa and Asia, including rhino horn, elephant ivory and pangolin scales.

The largest seizure occurred earlier this week in Singapore, where an estimated $6 million in ivory tusks, rhino horn and teeth believed to be from cheetahs and leopards were found stashed in a shipping container filled with bags of tea leaves. 

In each of these six separate cases, the shipments were en route to Vietnam and/or China, or involved smuggling by nationals of those countries.

Here’s a map and timeline of recent arrests and seizures:

• May 19: The Singapore bust is the largest such seizure in over a decade, according to Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and Singapore Customs. Agence France-Presse reports the in-transit shipment originated in Kenya and was bound for Vietnam. 

• May 19: Shanghai customs agents announced that they had found nearly 500 pounds of pangolin scales in nine black suitcases at Pudong International Airport. (Note: Shanghai Daily reports the seizure announced this week took place March 27.)

• May 18: A chief rhino horn smuggler was arrested in Windhoek, Namibia, and charged with possession and export of controlled wildlife products. The suspect, Wang Huii, has alleged ties to three Chinese nationals who were arrested in Windhoek last year for rhino horn possession.  

• May 16: Kenyan authorities detained a Vietnamese national at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after they intercepted luggage containing rhino horn and other wildlife items.

• May 14: Authorities in Mozambique seized 1.4 tons of ivory and rhino horn from recently poached animals. Some of the ivory pieces still had fresh blood, a police spokesman said. The haul was found in a home owned by a Chinese national. 

• May 10: Police in the Vietnamese province of Nghe An intercepted 31 rhino horns worth an estimated $10 million.

As part of our effort to reduce demand and end the illegal trade in wildlife products, WildAid is helping to strengthen enforcement operations in China and Vietnam. By reducing the consumer demand for these wildlife products, WildAid aims to help end the poaching crisis now decimating elephants, rhinos, pangolins and other species. For more information, click here for our latest annual report.