, HANOI, May 6 – Customs officials in Vietnam have seized two tonnes of elephant tusks illegally imported from Kenya, the largest recent seizure of its kind, state-linked media reported on Thursday.
The haul was destined for China, the reports said.
The tusks were found in containers at the northern port of Haiphong on Tuesday, hidden in 400 plastic sacks and covered with dry seaweed, said VNExpress online news site, citing the customs department.
Customs officials refused to comment on the case when reached by AFP.
The ivory trade has been banned since 1989 with the exception of a few one-time sales, but there has been a dramatic surge in illegal trafficking since 2005.
A UN wildlife trade meeting in March said there was a booming black market for African ivory, linked to Asian crime syndicates.
Last July in Tanzania six businessmen were charged with smuggling 11 tonnes of elephant ivory to the Philippines and Vietnam over the previous six months.
Four years ago Vietnam jailed one of its citizens for three years for trafficking elephant tusks from Tanzania in what was believed to be the communist nation\’s biggest ivory smuggling case.
He was found guilty of illegally importing 276 tusks weighing a total of 730 kilograms, state media said at the time.
China is one of the world\’s biggest markets for ivory, which is traditionally used to make family seals for stamping documents, as well as decorative antiques.
Ivory products also sell well to Vietnamese buyers.