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Vietnam seizes 40 kg of elephant tusks stashed in cashew nuts

Customs officers at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday detected 59 pieces of African elephant tusks weighing about 40 kilograms hidden in a carton of cashew nuts.

Customs officers at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday detected 59 pieces of African elephant tusks weighing about 40 kilograms hidden in a carton of cashew nuts.
Customs officers at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday detected 59 pieces of African elephant tusks weighing about 40 kilograms hidden in a carton of cashew nuts.

Notably, the tusks had gone through customs in a number of countries without being detected before they arrived in Vietnam, customs officers said.

The total value of these tusk sections is estimated at over VND2.4 billion (US$113,200), they said.

The consignor of the carton is C. F., and the consignee is a company named V.T.T.H.

This a new trick used by smugglers to avoid being detected by customs forces, the Tan Son Nhat Airport Customs Sub-Department said.

The agency has seized the smuggled tusks for investigation.

So far this year, the agency has reported six cases of the illegal transport of elephant tusks, with a total weight of over 300 kg and a total value of over VND18 billion ($849,000).

Last month, customs officers in the northern port city of Hai Phong discovered about one ton of African elephant tusks stashed among bags of peanuts in a container sent from Nigeria, a West African country.

By far the biggest interception of elephant tusks in Vietnam occurred in March 2009, when customs officers in Hai Phong seized nearly seven tons of the contraband in a container shipped from Tanzania, a country in East Africa.

Vietnam banned the ivory trade in 1992 to prevent the hunting of the 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 fell to around 600,000 by the end of the 1980s from several million in the mid-20th century, according to AFP.