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Elephant tusks confiscated in Hanoi airport

October 3, 2016

More than 300 kilograms of elephant tusks have been confiscated in Vietnam. Namibia and Zimbabwe meanwhile have lost their vote to allow ivory trade.

Elephant tusks confiscated in Hong Kong in 2014
Elephant tusks confiscated in Hong Kong in 2014Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Hofford

Customs officials at Noi Bai Airport confirmed on Monday that 309 kilograms of tusks were confiscated in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, on Saturday.

Deputy director of the Hanoi Customs Department, Nguyen Truong Giang, said the ivory had been flown in on an Ethiad flight from the United Arab Emirates.

The tusks had been inventoried as hydraulic toughened glass and signed for by a Vietnamese company, he added.

'Major threat'

"Illegal trade in ivory continues to be a major threat to the survival of elephant populations in Africa," wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic said in a statement.

"Traffickers continue to move ivory into and through Vietnam, and this seizure highlights the country's role in the illegal ivory trade," the statement added.  

World wakes up to illegal wildlife trade

Vietnam is a frequent transport point for ivory, where it is often smuggled onwards to China. Almost 7 tonnes were seized in 2009 in Vietnam's largest recorded bust.

According to experts, some ivory is sold for $770 to $1,200 (685 to 1,070 euros) per kilogram within Vietnam.

Namibia and Zimbabwe lose ivory trade vote

Confirmation of the discovery on Monday came as Namibia and Zimbabwe lost their fight to sell their ivory stockpiles.

The two countries, which are both home to healthy elephant populations, had lobbied for the right to sell off stockpiles accrued from natural deaths to fund projects in communities that live close to elephants.

"[The meeting] votes in committee against proposals of Namibia and Zimbabwe to allow international commercial trade in their elephants," the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) said in a statement at its conference in Johannesburg.

In the secret ballots, Namibia's proposal lost 73 to 27 and Zimbabwe's 80 to 21 - both far short of the two-thirds required to pass.

International trade in ivory has been banned since 1989, but legal domestic markets have continued in some countries around the world, and CITES has twice allowed sales of African ivory stockpiles to Japan and China, in 1999 and 2008.

ksb/se (AFP, dpa)