Illegal ivory seized in Vietnam
HANOI, Vietnam – Police in Vietnam have made two sizable seizures of illegally imported elephant tusks in the past few days, state media said Wednesday, August 26.
The VNExpress news site said customs police in central Danang's Tien Sa port Tuesday, August 25, discovered "a large amount of elephant tusks and pangolin scales hidden in 19.5 tonnes of red beans in a container that had arrived from Malaysia".
The total weight of the elephant tusks has not been calculated, the report added.
Late last week, police also seized two tonnes of elephant tusks from Nigeria, state media reported.
Communist Vietnam has long been accused of being one of the world's worst countries for trade in endangered species.
Earlier in the month police seized more than 700 kilograms (1,500 pounds) of rhino horns and elephant tusks believed to have originated from Mozambique.
There have been a number of campaigns to warn Vietnamese not to use products from endangered animals but they have had little success.
Tusks and other body parts of elephants are prized for decoration, as talismans, and for use in traditional medicine across parts of Asia.
In Vietnam, a kilogram of elephant tusk sells for as much as $2,100 dollars on the black market.
The scales of endangered pangolin ant-eaters are also prized in traditional Chinese medicine, where they are used to boost virility and treat allergies – but activists say their health properties are a myth.
The rare anteater's skin is also used in fashion accessories in Asia and its meat is considered a delicacy in China and Vietnam.
The international trade in ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 following the drop in the population of African elephants from millions in the mid-20th century to just 600,000 by the end of the 1980s. – Rappler.com
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