Category: World / January 4, 2013 10:51 AM EST
Hong Kong customs confiscated nearly 800 pieces of illegal African ivory tusks worth $1.37 million on Thursday.
Customs said at a news conference on Friday that they uncovered a total of 779 tusks -- many chopped into segments -- inside an imported shipping container sent from Malaysia, originating in Kenya.
The tusks were hidden in wooden boxes beneath layers of material used in construction, such as slabs and stones.
It was the third major seizure of illegal ivory tusks in the busy sea port in recent months.
Hong Kong saw its largest confiscation of illicit ivory from Kenya and Tanzania, worth 3.5 million U.S. dollars (26.7 million Hong Kong dollars) last October.
Less than one month later, it found 1.4 million U.S. dollars (10.6 million Hong Kong dollars) worth of ivory in a container from Tanzania.
But Hong Kong officials stressed these were isolated cases.
"Actually, in the cases, there is no intelligence and no information suggesting that there is an increasing trend of smuggling ivory tusks detected," said Vincent Wong, group head of Ports and Maritime Command of the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.
Hong Kong was a major importer, trader and manufacturer of ivory carvings, crafts and other products before the international trade in ivory was banned in 1990.