Malawi Police at Kamuzu International Airport have arrested a Chinese national for trying to smuggle ivory out of the country. Airport police say this is the fifth arrest at the airport since January this year.
KIA Police spokesperson Peter Botha confirmed the arrest on Sunday and identified the Chinese national as Haizhou Zhu, 43, who works for Chinese firm Shanghai Construction Company, which is currently involved in various construction works in the country.
“He was arrested while trying to smuggle almost 1.2 kilogrammes of ivory in form of curios. He has since been charged with exporting game trophies without an exporting licence,” said Botha.
The KIA police publicist said Haizhou was arrested on Thursday while about to board a 13.00 hours Ethiopian Airways flight to Addis Ababa en route to China.
Botha could not immediately say the total value of the ivory as he said it has been referred to the Department of Parks and Wildlife for verification and evaluation.
However, according to recent CNN reports ivory in China fetches almost K1.3 million (about $3 250) per kilogramme on the black market meaning that the 1.2 kilogramme could fetch up to K1.56 million (about $3 900).
China, where ivory is referred to as ‘white gold’ is currently rated as the world’s largest market of smuggled ivory.
“We have confiscated a total of almost six kilogrammes of Ivory since January,” said Botha.
He explained that the major concern is that each smuggled ivory means that an elephant is killed somewhere. He said according, to the Department of Parks and Wildlife records, each elephant is estimated to be worth almost K10.9 million (about $27 250).
Haizhou has since been given police bail as he awaits to appear before court.
“We could have already taken him to court but since it was a holiday and a weekend we could not manage but he will appear before the Nkukula Magistrates Court on Tuesday,” added Botha.