Over N1.1 billion worth of ivory seized in record bust

Officials said the confiscated ivory would be destroyed.

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Thailand authorities have seized four tonnes of ivory hidden in what is being described as a record bust.

739 elephant tusks which were hidden in bean sacks and bound for Laos from the Democratic Republic of Congo, were seized upon arrival at a port in Bangkok on Saturday after the authorities received a tip-off.

The Customs Department's Director-General Somchai Sujjapongse told reporters that the shipment, labelled as beans, was shipped out of Congo in February and went through Malaysia before reaching the Thai capital.

Al Jazeera reports that authorities had been tracking the shipment for two months.

The Customs DG said authorities believe that if the ivory, worth $6m (about N1.1 billion) had reached Laos, it would then have been distributed to buyers in China, Vietnam and Thailand.

The confiscation comes in line with beefed-up security measures to tackle ivory trafficking as part of Thailand's National Ivory Action Plan.

Reports say poachers have killed tens of thousands of African elephants for their tusks in recent years to meet demand for ivory in Asia.

Meanwhile, China has imposed a one-year ban on ivory imports amid criticism that its citizens' huge appetite for ivory threatens the existence of Africa's elephants.

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