Cameroon arrests four men for smuggling 118 elephant tusks

Elephant, photo: Tarek Kunze on Unsplash
Elephant, photo: Tarek Kunze on Unsplash

Cameroon authorities arrested four ivory smugglers attempting to transport 118 elephant tusks from neighboring Gabon, officials said Friday.

They hid the tusks at the bottom of a van with a fake compartment, state television reported. It was the biggest ivory seizure in the West African nation for five years, customs officer Jean-Claude Ekoube told AFP.

The group had trafficked nearly 675 kilograms (1,500 pounds) of elephant tusks from Gabon, home to more than half of Africa’s remaining forest elephants.

Ivory is the white material from the tusks and teeth of animals. Tusks are long, continuously growing front teeth that some animals have. Male and female African elephants are born with two tusks.

Elephants are killed, and their tusks are cut off for the strong ivory demand in Asia and the Middle East, where it’s used in traditional medicine and in combs, pendants and other exotic jewelry.

The global trade in elephant ivory has been almost completely forbidden since 1989 after the population of the African animals dropped from millions to about 600,000 in 50 years.

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