Vietnam confiscates 90kg of elephant tusks, ivory artifacts allegedly smuggled from Africa



Date Published
Vietnam’s customs officers at Tan Son Nhat International Airport discovered Sunday 39 African elephant tusks and about 100 ivory handicrafts worth over US$188,000 hidden in a package allegedly shipped from Africa.

As written on the airway bill, the consignor of the package is L.J.J. and the consignee is T.L.O. The goods, weighing over 90 kilograms in total, were declared as food.

The smuggled goods were suspected of being sent from Africa and they arrived at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City on June 22 after passing through several countries without detection, the city Customs Department said.

Customs officers have seized all the tusks and ivory artifacts, worth VND4 billion ($188,271), for investigation.

Many similar ivory smuggling cases have been cracked in recent years in Vietnam, which has banned trade in ivory since 1992 to prevent the hunting of the country’s dwindling population of elephants, which poachers value highly for their tusks.

The most recent case occurred about two weeks ago, when customs officers at the same airport found 77 African elephant tusks, worth over $200,000, stashed in a parcel previously declared to contain personal belongings.

As indicated in the airway bill, the consignor of the package is B.J., the consignee is S.S., and the goods are declared as private possessions.

The package was suspected to have been sent from Nigeria, a western African country, through Doha International Airport in Qatar, a western Asian nation, to the airport in HCMC on June 10, customs officers said.

By far the biggest interception of elephant tusks in Vietnam occurred in March 2009 when customs officers in northern Hai Phong City seized nearly seven tons of the contraband goods in a container shipped from Tanzania, a country in East Africa.

The international trade in elephant tusks has been prohibited since 1989 after the population of the African giants sharply decreased to some 600,000 by the end of the 1980s from millions in the mid-20th century, AFP reported.