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Mozambican elephant tusks seized in Vietnam

There were 2.2 tonnes of elephant tusks in all, in 835 separate pieces. The ivory had been hiden among sacks of beans, according to a Vietnamese customs official.

The container carrying the ivory originated in Mozambique, and the ship docked at Hai Phong port in late November. The ivory was supposed to be delivered to a local company – but the company has denied any connection with the ivory.
Vietnam outlawed the trade in ivory in 1992, but the ban has an enormous loophole in that ivory from elephants killed before the ban can still be sold. There is also a thriving Vietnamese black market in ivory. According to a report carried by the French AFP news agency, ivory can sell for 2,100 US dollars a kilo – which would make last Friday’s haul worth over 4.6 million dollars.
Recent years have seen a severe decline in the number of elephants in Mozambique. The latest elephant census, undertaken in 2014, showed a 48 per cent drop in the elephant population since 2009 – from just over 20,000 to around 10,300.
Ninety-five percent of the total loss occurred in northern Mozambique where the elephant population declined from an estimated 15,400 to an estimated 6,100. The Niassa National Reserve was hardest hit. Here the number of elephants fell from around 12,000 to an estimated 4,440. Organised criminal gangs are slaughtering elephant sin Niassa, and in the Selous Reserve, across the border in Tanzania.


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