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Three tonnes of South African ivory seized in Vietnam

Hanoi, Sunday

Vietnamese authorities have seized nearly three tonnes of ivory hidden among boxes of fruit, officials said today, the latest haul to spotlight the country’s key role in the global wildlife smuggling trade.

Police in the central province of Thanh Hoa found 2.7 tonnes of tusks inside cartons on the back of a truck that was on its way to Hanoi, according to a report on their website.

“This is the largest seizure of smuggled ivory ever in Thanh Hoa province,” the report said. State media said the elephant tusks originated from South Africa. The truck driver claimed he was unaware of what he was transporting, according to a report in state-controlled Tuoi Tre newspaper.

The global trade in elephant ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after populations of the African giants dropped from millions in the mid-20th century to around 600,000 by the end of the 1980s.

There are now believed to be some 415,000, with 30,000 illegally killed each year. Prices for a kilogramme of ivory can reach as high as $1,100 (Sh110,000). -AFP

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