Half a ton of African ivory seized at Vietnam port

By VnExpress   October 22, 2016 | 12:00 am GMT+7
Half a ton of African ivory seized at Vietnam port
Ho Chi Minh City customs officers seize around 500kg of ivory hidden in two timber containers imported from Africa on Friday. Photo by VnExpress/Quoc Thang

Ho Chi Minh City customs officials seize nearly $1 million worth of ivory, the third major ivory seizure in Vietnam this month.

Customs officials at Cat Lai Port in Ho Chi Minh City seized around 500kg of ivory hidden in two timber containers imported from Africa on Friday.

The ivory found in the two containers, which are owned by the HCMC-based Dao Gia Company, is worth more than VND20 billion ($881,700).

The elephant tusks were covered in glue and stuck to the center of timber blocks, which were then laid randomly with normal blocks in the containers.

Authorities decided to search the suspected containers by hand after scanners failed to detect the smuggled ivory.

A number of pangolin scales were also found in the two containers.

This latest case has raised the number of major ivory seizures in Vietnam to three in just a month.

On October 6, customs officials in Ho Chi Minh City also seized around two tons of ivory hidden in another timber shipment in two crates from Mozambique.

That seizure followed October 1's discovery of 300kg of elephant ivory at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport, where officials found tusks from Nigeria falsely labeled as glass.

Vietnam outlawed the ivory trade in 1992, but shops still sell ivory dating from before the ban and weak law enforcement has allowed its illegal trade to persist.

Although the ivory trade is banned in Vietnam, the country remains a top market for ivory products prized locally for decorative and medicinal purposes, according to conservation groups. The country is also a busy thoroughfare for tusks trafficked from Africa destined for other parts of Asia, conservationists say.

Vietnam has brushed off such allegations.

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