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Vietnamese customs seize over 65kg of suspected rhino horns, elephant tusks

Friday, April 17, 2015, 19:02 GMT+7
Vietnamese customs seize over 65kg of suspected rhino horns, elephant tusks
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 at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on Thursday discovered over 65.4 kilograms of suspected rhino horns and elephant tusks hidden in two packages sent from France, chinhphu.vn reported.

The customs force at the airport, in coordination with the anti-smuggling bureau under the Vietnam Customs and the Customs Department of Hanoi, checked the entire shipment after a tip-off about its suspicious signs.

The shipment included two parcels and was carried on flight VN 18 from France to Noi Bai.

The recipient is the Express Mail Service (EMS) office at Noi Bai, according to the bill of lading.

Following the check, the customs found the 65.4-kilogram shipment containing wild animal products suspected to be rhino horns and elephant tusks, including 18 pieces of animal tusks weighing more than 60kg and three animal horns.

Competent authorities then sealed the entire shipment after taking some samples for testing, with no results having been made available so far.

A customs officer said that the 18 pieces might be African mammoth tusks, according to chinhphu.vn.

This is the first time the customs have discovered a shipment of wildlife products from Europe to the airport, signaling that smugglers are finding new routes to transport such banned items to Vietnam, customs officers said.  

Earlier, such smuggled shipments were often transferred by air from African countries to the Southeast Asian country.

The price of rhino horns on the black market can be up to US$133 per gram while that of ivory is around $2,100 per kg.

The trade of 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.

Many similar tusk and horn smuggling cases have occurred in recent years in Vietnam, which has banned trade in ivory since 1992 to prevent the hunting of the country's dwindling population of elephants, which poachers value highly for their tusks.

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