Vietnam, Thailand: Large hauls of black-market ivory seized

Vietnam, Thailand: Large hauls of black-market ivory seized

Nearly 3 tons of ivory seized in Vietnam and Thailand show that the black market trade for illegal animal parts is still thriving in Southeast Asia.

Vietnamese officials said 2.2 tons of tusks, originating from Mozambique, were discovered in December 2015 buried among sacks of beans.

In Thailand, wildlife officials displayed more than 700 kilograms of ivory items that were seized around the same time on the island of Koh Samui.

A customs official said the tusks were found in a cargo container that was marked as carrying hair wigs, adding that the shipment had been sent from Singapore and was on its way to Laos.

Tusks and other body parts of elephants are prized for decoration as talismans and for use in traditional medicine across parts of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, with China being a major market for such products.

The international trade in ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 following a drop in the population of African elephants from millions in the mid-20th century to just 600,000 by the end of the 1980s.

That has not stopped criminal gangs, however, seeking to exploit the continued demand for the material.  Agence France-Presse