Vietnam seizes over 1 ton of elephant tusks smuggled from Hong Kong


Tuoi Tre

Date Published

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Customs officials in the northern city of Hai Phong on Saturday seized more than one ton of ivory smuggled into Vietnam.

The tusks were concealed in a 40-foot container. The customs declaration for the container claimed it held 15 tons of charcoal.

Local customs officers inspected the container and found that the haul of elephant tusks, each of which was cut into many pieces and hidden in charcoal bags.

The shipment was smuggled into Vietnam from Hong Kong by sea before being exported to China, they said.

According to Hai Phong customs officials, the writer of the declaration is Du Huong Commercial and Construction Joint Stock Company based in Mong Cai City in the northern province of Quang Ninh.

According to a recent report by the World Wide Fund for Nature, most ivory smuggled into Vietnam is destined for China, although some of the illicit goods are sold locally for US$770-1,200 per kilogram.

In both China and Vietnam, elephant tusks and other body parts are highly valued for use in traditional medicine and for decoration.

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

Another large seizure was made in June 2012 when customs officers in Ho Chi Minh City found 158 tusks weighing nearly 2.5 tons stashed in 28 wooden boxes in a container imported from Singapore.

Vietnam officially banned the trade in ivory in 1992 to discourage the hunting of the country’s dwindling population of elephants, which poachers value highly for their tusks.