Authorities in Vietnam have seized seven tonnes of ivory smuggled from Angola, one of the largest wildlife product busts in recent years.
Customs officials in the city of Haiphong discovered the ivory on Monday hidden in a container that had been declared to customs as peanuts. The cargo had transited through Singapore.
The trade in ivory is illegal in Vietnam, but the smuggling of wildlife products is widespread in the country. Other items that are often found to have been smuggled into Vietnam include rhino horns, tiger carcasses, and pangolin scales.
The bust comes a month after more than 600 kg of African ivory was found in Haiphong’s Lach Huyen port. Vietnamese authorities have been stepping up their efforts to curb wildlife trafficking, as the country has become a hub for illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia.
But despite efforts to crack down on the illegal trade, the smuggling of wildlife products remains a significant problem in Vietnam. The killing of elephants for their ivory has led to a drastic decline in elephant populations across Africa.
Ivory is a material obtained from the tusks of elephants. The demand for ivory has led to a global black market, with poachers killing thousands of elephants yearly to meet the demand for ivory products.
In 1989, the international trade in ivory was banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) due to concerns over the decline of elephant populations.
Despite the ban, illegal poaching and smuggling of ivory continues, particularly in Africa and Asia. Ivory is often smuggled into countries like Vietnam, China, and Thailand, where it is used to make luxury goods such as jewelry and carvings.
The trade in ivory has contributed to the decline of elephant populations in Africa, with an estimated 415,000 elephants left in the wild as of 2021, down from 1.3 million in the 1970s.