Three tons of ivory seized in Viet­nam

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Viet­namese author­i­ties have seized nearly three tons of ivory hid­den among boxes of fruit, of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day, the lat­est haul to spot­light the coun­try’s key role in the global wildlife smug­gling trade. Po­lice in the cen­tral prov­ince of Thanh Hoa found 2.7 tons of tusks in­side car­tons on the back of a truck that was on its way to Hanoi, ac­cord­ing to a re­port on their web­site. “This is the largest seizure of smug­gled ivory ever in Thanh Hoa prov­ince,” the re­port said.

State me­dia said the ele­phant tusks orig­i­nated from South Africa. The truck driver claimed he was un­aware of what he was trans­port­ing, ac­cord­ing to a re­port in state­con­trolled Tuoi Tre news­pa­per. Po­lice de­clined to com­ment fur­ther when con­tacted by AFP yes­ter­day.

The global trade in ele­phant ivory, with rare ex­cep­tions, has been out­lawed since 1989 after pop­u­la­tions of the African gi­ants dropped from mil­lions in the mid-20th cen­tury to around 600,000 by the end of the 1980s.

There are now be­lieved to be some 415,000, with 30,000 il­le­gally killed each year. Prices for a kilo­gram (2.2 pounds) of ivory can reach as high as $1,100. Viet­nam out­lawed the ivory trade in 1992 but the coun­try re­mains a top mar­ket for ivory prod­ucts prized lo­cally for dec­o­ra­tive pur­poses, or in tra­di­tional medicine de­spite hav­ing no proven medic­i­nal qual­i­ties.

Weak law en­force­ment in the com­mu­nist coun­try has al­lowed a black mar­ket to flour­ish, and Viet­nam is also a busy thor­ough­fare for tusks traf­ficked from Africa des­tined for other parts of Asia, mainly China. Last Oc­to­ber, Viet­nam cus­toms author­i­ties dis­cov­ered about 3.5 tons of ele­phant tusks at Cat Lai port in Ho Chi Minh city, all in crates of wood, in­clud­ing a hefty two-ton haul packed into a sin­gle ship­ment.

In 2015, 2.2 tons of tusks, orig­i­nat­ing from Mozam­bique, were dis­cov­ered and seized north­ern Hai Phong port. And last week author­i­ties in Hong Kong seized 7.2 tons of ivory, the largest haul in the city for three decades. While low level couri­ers are some­times ar­rested across Asia very few wildlife trafficking king­pins are brought to jus­tice. — AFP

THANH HOA, Viet­nam: This picture taken on July 8, 2017 shows a po­lice­man (cen­ter) and a cus­toms of­fi­cer in­spect­ing seized ivory trans­ported on a truck (back­ground) in the cen­tral prov­ince of Thanh Hoa. — AFP

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