Ivory hid­den in ‘plas­tics’ con­tainer

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD - PAUL FAUVET

MAPUTO: The Mozam­bi­can Tax Au­thor­ity has blocked an at­tempt to ex­port a large quan­tity of ivory from the Port of Maputo to Asia.

The huge amount of ivory was found in a con­tainer in the port, dis­guised as plas­tics, and the ex­port doc­u­ments said it was des­tined for Cam­bo­dia. Speak­ing to re­porters in the port, the tax au­thor­ity’s press of­fi­cer, Fer­nando Tinga, said the con­tainer be­longed to a fac­tory in Belu­lu­ane, on the out­skirts of Maputo, which spe­cialised in the pro­duc­tion of plas­tic ar­ti­cles. He de­clined to name the com­pany, or re­veal whether it was owned by Mozam­bi­can or for­eign cit­i­zens.

He said the ivory was dis­cov­ered dur­ing a “rou­tine in­spec­tion” by scan­ner . There were six con­tain­ers, and the ex­port doc­u­ments said they con­tained polypropy­lene resin, which is used to make plas­tic prod­ucts.

But in­spec­tion re­vealed no resin. In­stead there were large quan­ti­ties of used plas­tic items, ap­par­ently be­ing sent for re­cy­cling. “We’re talk­ing about plas­tic bot­tles of min­eral wa­ter or soft drinks, al­ready used,” said Tinga.

The ivory was found in one of the six con­tain­ers,hid­den among used plas­tic items. All ex­port of ivory, raw or worked, is il­le­gal in Mozam­bique.

The tusks are yet to be counted and whether the ele­phants were slaugh­tered in Mozam­bique or neigh­bour­ing states is not known.

Tinga said that crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings would be opened at the Cus­toms Tri­bunal. No­body has been ar­rested,but the com­pany that owns the con­tainer has been no­ti­fied.

“We are con­tin­u­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tions”, said Tinga, “be­cause it may be that be­hind this there are other el­e­ments we have yet to dis­cover to reach de­fin­i­tive con­clu­sions about where the ivory came from”. – In­de­pen­dent For­eign Ser­vice

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