Vietnamese officials say they’ve seized about a half-ton of ivory tusks at a Ho Chi Mihn City port, after finding the ivory hidden within a timber shipment from Mozambique.
The AFP reports the ivory was discovered as Vietnam Customs Administration officials completed a more extensive search of two shipment crates at the port. Authorities were assessing the total amount of the illegal shipment into the country, with some reports putting the amount higher.
It was the second time this week that Vietnamese customs officers discovered an ivory shipment entering the country, which banned the ivory trade in 1992 but continues to see illegal traffic of products destined for Southeast Asia.
Vietnamese authorities confiscated ivory aboard an Ethiad flight originating from the United Arab Emirates in that case. A Deutsche Welle report said the ivory was discovered at Noi Bai airport.
The shipment, listed as glass products in the inventory, was believed to originate in Nigeria. Customs officials took samples from the shipment to confirm its origin, and began an investigation into the Vietnamese company listed as the intended recipient.
Some African nations at the recent CITES conference continued to defend the ivory trade, even as Botswana made the bold announcement that it will no longer do so.
A report completed this year by Save the Elephants in Kenya found that illegal processing of raw tusks continues in northern Vietnam, with ivory readily available for sale and a thriving ivory jewelry market with products commonly destined for China.
Image: Save the Elephants