Tusks worth £350k seized at Bangkok air­port are from rare, large ele­phants

The Herald - - INTERNATIONAL -

AU­THOR­I­TIES in Thai­land have seized

326lb of African ele­phant ivory worth around 15 mil­lion baht (£350,000) at Bangkok air­port.

Po­lice said the haul from Nige­ria con­sisted of three large tusks and 31 tusk frag­ments which were seized on Jan­uary 5 af­ter the cargo was flagged by of­fi­cials.

The tusks were des­tined for China where there is a large de­mand for ivory, a po­lice spokesman said.

“These ivory tusks were taken from very big ele­phants, and ele­phants of that size are now hard to find even in Africa,” said Somkiat Soon­torn­pit­takkool, an of­fi­cial from the Depart­ment of Na­tional Parks, Wildlife and Plant Con­ser­va­tion.

“And judg­ing from how the tusks look, they ap­pear to have been taken a while ago. They weren’t hunted re­cently. They were taken and stored for a while be­fore smug­glers sent them out.”

A Cus­toms Depart­ment state­ment said the seized ivory would be im­pounded as po­lice widen in­ves­ti­ga­tions to iden­tify sus­pects in­volved in the smug­gling.

Thai­land had been con­sid­ered to have the largest un­reg­u­lated ivory mar­ket in the world and had been threat­ened with sanc­tions un­der the trade of pro­tected wildlife species, but in­tro­duced new laws and amend­ments in 2014 and 2015 to reg­u­late do­mes­tic ivory mar­kets and crim­i­nalise the sale of African ele­phant ivory.

Thai­land is still con­sid­ered a ma­jor tran­sit hub and des­ti­na­tion for smug­gled tusks, but the big­gest de­mand comes from China.

The tusks come from large ele­phants, say ex­perts.

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