An investigation into an international ivory smuggling ring moving goods through Australia is underway by federal authorities after elephant tusks were intercepted by customs officers at Perth Airport during the Easter break.
Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the Department of Environment told Fairfax Media on Wednesday that 110 kilograms of elephant tusks were intercepted at the international terminal on April 5.
“It is difficult to determine the number of tusks as the shipment consisted of numerous parts of tusks that were cut into various sizes and shapes,” a department spokesperson said.
The shipment was believed to be travelling through Perth on its way from Africa en route to Malaysia.
The seized ivory is being stored at a secure detained goods storage by customs and is now the property of the Australian government.
Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Australia has strict controls on the international movement of all products made from wildlife, including endangered species.
Elephant items are not permitted in or out of Australia without a pre-CITES certificate and it is illegal to buy ivory, worth billions of dollars worldwide, from threatened animals.
Ivory products already in Australia come under the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986 which is administered by the Department of the Environment and Heritage.
Federal investigators seized almost $80,000 of illegal ivory products in Sydney in February last year following a lengthy investigation.
The illegal ivory was found in ornaments and jewellery after information was by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Oceania to track the illegal trade of wildlife products online trading sites.
Dealing with Illegal wildlife trade can attract a 10-year jail term and may include a fine of $170 000 for individuals and up to $850 000 for corporations.
About 1640 seizure and plant specimen notices were issued for importing or possessing illegal specimens.
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