Over 95kg of alleged elephant tusks smuggled from Africa to Vietnam

Forty-nine purported elephant tusk parts and one alleged rhino horn have been found in air packages sent to Vietnam from Africa

A part of the elephant tusks seized by customs officers at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on April 16, 2015

Customs officers at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on Wednesday evening seized 49 purported elephant tusk parts and one alleged rhino horn that were shipped from Africa.

The suspicious tusks weigh 95.54kg while the horn weighs 4.76kg, customs officers said, adding that the samples of these items were sent to the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources for testing on Thursday morning.

These alleged animal parts were found in four packages that were sent from Africa through South Korea before arriving in Vietnam.

Customs officers had decided to directly inspect the goods after finding them suspicious.

The luggage tags fixed to these packages show two Vietnamese names: Pham Van Luat and Vu Thanh Hung.

If these animal parts are confirmed to be elephant tusks and rhino horn, the seizure will be the largest case of trafficking in wild animal parts that has been sent to Hanoi from abroad so far, the airport customs said.

The value of the confiscated items would then be about dozens of billions of Vietnamese dong (VND1 billion equal to US$45,800), customs officers said.

Currently, the price of rhino horn on the black market can be up to $133 per gram, while that of ivory is around $2,100 per kg, they added.

On April 16, the airport customs also seized 65.42kg of elephant tusks and rhino horns transported from France.

The trade in tusks and rhino horn is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora as well as Vietnamese law, as the two items are listed in the World’s Red Book, customs officers said.

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