Vietnam seizes 1 tonne of elephant tusks, 6kg of rhino horns

Vietnamese customs officers discovered nearly one metric ton of elephant tusks in the northern city of Hai Phong and six kilograms of rhino horns in Hanoi on Monday

This file photo shows elephant tusks seized by customs officers at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City on June 10, 2014.

Customs officers in northern Vietnam on Monday confiscated nearly one metric ton of elephant tusks stashed in a container of rubber gloves imported from an unknown country/territory, and about six kilograms of rhino horns hidden in the luggage of a Vietnamese passenger.

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The container was shipped to the northern city of Hai Phong onboard the Ability V.0011S vessel, which arrived at the Greenport in the city’s Hai An District on October 23.

As shown on the shipping documents, the container is part of a shipment of two containers of rubber gloves that were sent to Huy Tuan Joint Stock Company, located in Ha Long City, the capital of the northern province of Quang Ninh.

Customs officers inspected both containers and found elephant tusks in one of them, said Nguyen Sy Trang, deputy head of the Hai Phong City Customs Sub-Department.

Huy Tuan had earlier submitted to the agency a customs declaration for the import of two containers of rubber gloves, which would then be exported to a third country, Trang said, without naming the specific country from which the Vietnamese firm had imported the goods.  

The agency is coordinating with a Vietnam-based wildlife protection organization to identify the origin of the tusks and estimate their value, he added.

Vietnam has banned trade in ivory since 1992 to prevent the hunting of the Southeast Asian country’s dwindling population of elephants, which poachers value highly for their tusks.

The international trade in elephant tusks has been prohibited since 1989 after the population of the African giants sharply decreased to some 600,000 by the end of the 1980s from millions in the mid-20th century, AFP reported.

6kg of rhino horns worth $188,000 seized

Also on Monday, customs officers at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi found rhino horns hidden in the luggage of a Vietnamese woman, 29-year-old Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tu, who flew in from Bangkok.

After finding suspicious signs in Tu’s suitcases through scanning, customs officers decided to open them for examination and discovered many animal horns, suspected to be from rhinos, concealed inside.

Tu was questioned and she then admitted they were rhino horns, which weighed about 6kg in total.

The woman told customs officers that she was hired by a person in Bangkok to bring the horns to Hanoi.

Tu was handed over to Hanoi police for investigation, and police officers have taken samples of the horns for testing to trace their origin.

The total value of the horns is estimated at about VND4 billion ($188,120), police officers said.

The Vietnamese government recently issued a directive banning specimens of rhinos and several other wild animals from being traded, exported or imported.

Specifically, specimens of white and black rhinos and elephants, as well as products made from their horns, are banned. Any other animals included in the list of the appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna are also not to be traded.

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