Shocking – smugglers disguised elephant ivory into chocolate in China

China / August 15, 2013 – Custom officials in Macao, China grew suspicious last week when they saw 15 boxes of unusually heavy chocolate in a set of luggage. Further investigation brought a staggering find: After soaking in warm water, the chocolate melted away to reveal 583 elephant tusks.

Elephant tusks disguised as chocolate © WWF

Elephant tusks disguised as chocolate © WWF

Between September and December of 2012, more than 90 ivory seals, known as name chops, were found concealed in chocolate packaging and recovered from South Africa to Taiwan. In another recent seizure, Hong Kong customs officials found 1,148 ivory tusks disguised as timber on a ship from Togo.

“Nothing shocks me anymore—especially at how far people will go to engage in illegal wildlife trade,” said Crawford Allan, director of TRAFFIC North America. “Luckily, officials detected the ‘chocolate’ ivory before the traffickers turned a profit. Unfortunately, these incidents are not isolated, and trade in illegal wildlife continues to be a major global problem.”

More than 30,000 elephants are now killed for their tusks annually. The crisis is fueled by a demand for illegal ivory—part of wildlife crime trade valued between $7.8 billion and $10 billion per year.

Source: WWF