Ivory seized from Quang Ninh warehouse

TN News

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Police in the northern Quang Ninh Province on Monday seized 122 elephant tusks from the warehouse of Hung Vuong Limited, a company based in Mong Cai City, Dan Tri reported.

The police found the 50 whole tusks and 144 pieces packed in sacks and covered by soy beans. Investigators concluded from the pieces that a total of 122 tusks weighing in at 300 kilograms were found at the warehouse.

The warehouse manager, Vu Thanh Tuan, confessed to the police he rented the space out to a stranger named Quy for VND5 million (US$238).

Tuan said he thought the storage area was used to hold 20 tons of soy beans until the police stormed in. Tuan told officials he had no idea of Quy's whereabouts.

The police are still investigating the case.

According to an October 2009 Elephant Trade Information System report, a 2008 assessment found Vietnam had 2,444 ivory items for sale at 73 retail outlets in eight cities.

The report found an increase in ivory trade due to the "impact of newly emergent ivory demand from unregulated markets in Asia and Africa."

Thailand is the largest unregulated ivory market in Asia, according to the study.

Evidence suggests that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the source of ivory found in large consignments destined for Asian markets through Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

Vietnam officially banned the ivory trade in 1992. Ivory-based products sell well to buyers in Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia with the price as much as $1,800 per kilogram.

The Ivory trade results in the loss of about 60,000 elephants each year and activist warn of extinction by the year 2020 without serious enforcement of a worldwide ivory trade ban.

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