5 Elephant tusks — likely from Sabah — seized at Nunukan claims report (Malaysia)


Borneo Today

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KOTA KINABALU – Indonesian press reports say that its officials stopped a woman carrying five pieces of elephant tusks in Nunukan, North Kalimantan, a week ago.

The tusks are believed to be from Sabah, though the reports mentioned (country) Malaysia. If one enters Kalimantan via Nunukan, she would have crossed in from Tawau, Sabah.

But the officials at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine station at Nunukan let her go – her reason being that she did not own the items but was just entrusted to carry it.

The nationality of the woman was not disclosed but the tusks have been seized and sent to higher authorities in Tarakan.

KOMPAS, the Indonesian news portal that first published the report, said the woman who was headed to Flores had said that the tusks were from Malaysia.

The woman was also reportedly to have told officials that the elephant tusks was meant to be used as a dowry.

Coincidentally, poachers in Sabah shamelessly butchered two rare Pygmy Elephants close to the Segama river in November and December last year for the tusks.

A pair of tusks are said to fetch as high as RM70,000 a pair in China and that these tusks from Sabah find their way to the buyer destination via Indonesian Kalimantan.

However, BorneoToday cannot confirm that the tusks that were brought it by the woman was that of those from the two butchered Pygmy elephants at Segama.

According to the KOMPAS report datelined Nunukan on Friday, and quoting the person in charge of the CIQ station, Dr Hewan Sapto Hudaya

“The woman was only a carrier and that she had been instructed to carry the tusks,” the official was quoted saying

The tusks were found hidden in the woman’s bag as it passed through Indonesian Customs x-ray machine.

Indonesia authorities valued the contraband at RM33,000 (or Rp 100 million).

The incident was said to have taken place at 2pm on January 13 when officials spotted longish items among the clothes in the bag, as the woman passed through Customs on her forward destination to Flores.

On questioning the woman, she said the tusks were not hers and that she was sending it to Flores on behalf of another person who wanted to use it as a dowry for marriage.

The official said that under existing laws, those who were found with tusks could be jailed for up to three years and fined Rp150 million.

The same official said that if one is charged under Indonesia’s Conservation laws, the sentence could be even higher.