Guangzhou customs officials have seized more than 170 kilograms of smuggled endangered animals and byproducts so far this year, including ivory, rhino horns and pangolin scales.
Confiscated ivory products are put on display in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. (Photo: VCG)
Twenty-three people were arrested smuggling, the Guangzhou customs office said at a Thursday press conference.
In one case reported by the office on Thursday, customs officers seized 18 kilograms of ivory in January, which is the largest case of smuggling ivory through the mail.
When a batch of parcels reached Guangzhou from Japan, the scanner immediately detected an abnormality, and then the officers discovered 13 packages of ivory products, said Shen Cui, an official from the Guangzhou Postal Administration, at the conference.
China is determined to crack down on the smuggling of endangered species, but there are still people who take the risk and use more covert ways, which makes them more difficult to detect, Huo Jianguo, vice chairman of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies, told the Global Times.
Customs officers in some places installed hi-tech equipment to better help in detecting smuggled items.
Customs officers at border crossings in Southwest China's Yunnan Province have been using CT scanners and full-body imaging devices to check baggage and passengers, an employee from the Kunming customs office in Yunnan told the Global Times earlier this month.
He said customs officers can see a 360-degree image of baggage when it passes through the CT machine.
Huo called for international efforts to battle the smuggling of those items. "For example, there should be a strict tracing and protection mechanism in African countries that produce ivory and rhino horns," Huo said.
China's forestry departments are also trying to raise public awareness. The measures include the distribution of leaflets to passengers entering and leaving the country and showing infomercials on flights. They have likewise hired celebrities to urge the public not to smuggle ivory, rhino horns and other endangered species in public service announcements.