Madrid – Police in Spain have seized 74 African elephant tusks worth €200 000 from a man who was allegedly trying to sell them with a fake permit, authorities said on Thursday.
The tusks, which weighed 744kg, were seized in April in Colmenar de Oreja, a town located southwest of Madrid, police said.
The owner of the tusks had tried to use a hunting licence issued in 1970 in Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony on the southeast coast of Africa, to try to sell them, police added.
The hunting licence allowed for one elephant to be killed, not 37 as the doctored version of the document claimed.
The man has been charged with falsifying documents, smuggling and endangering wildlife.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) banned the ivory trade in 1989.
But some countries allow the resale of ivory bought before the ban, and CITES-approved government stockpiles can also be sold with certification.
Africa is home to between 450 000 to 500 000 elephants, but more than 30 000 are killed every year on the continent to satisfy demand for ivory in Asia, where raw tusks sell for around $1 000 a kilo.
Heavily-armed poachers kill elephants and rhinos for their tusks, which are used for ornaments and in some folk medicines.
The African elephant, the world’s largest terrestrial mammal, is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s “red list” of threatened species.