Poached ivory from Lagos seized at Suvarnabhumi

Poached ivory from Lagos seized at Suvarnabhumi

The ivory tusks seized at Suvarnabhumi airport on Dec 20 shown at a press briefing at the Customs Department on Friday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
The ivory tusks seized at Suvarnabhumi airport on Dec 20 shown at a press briefing at the Customs Department on Friday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Three cut up ivory tusks smuggled from Ethiopia were seized at Suvarnabhumi airport on Dec 20, a senior customs official announced on Friday after officers had waited in vain for someone to claim the packages.

Deputy Customs Department director-general Chaiyut Kumkun showed three tusks which weighed 148 kilogrammes and had been cut into 31 pieces contained in three packages.

The illegal ivory arrived on Dec 20 on Ethiopia Airlines flight ET618 from Addis Ababaand was consigned from Lagos, Nigeria.

The packages were declared as general goods and had been kept at the customs office at the airport, but nobody came to claim it, he said.

The name and addresses on the packages were false, he added.

The size of the tusks showed they were taken from large African elephants, which are endangered in the wild, and the discolouration indicated they had been kept in storage for a long time, said Somkiat Soontornpittakkool, of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

"From what I can tell, these ivory tusks were taken from very big elephants, and elephants of that size are now hard to find  in Africa,'' Mr Somkiat said. "And judging from how the tusks look, they appear to have been taken a while ago. They weren't hunted recently. They were taken and stored for a while before smugglers sent them out.''

Thailand was considered to have the largest unregulated ivory market in the world and has been threatened with sanctions under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. It introduced new laws and amendments in 2014 and 2015 to regulate domestic ivory markets and criminalise the sale of African elephant ivory.

Thailand is still considered a major transit hub and destination for smuggled tusks, but the biggest demand comes from China.

Last year, Thai officials seized 510 smuggled elephant tusk pieces in four separate cases, the Customs Department said. Rhinoceros horns, pangolin scales, turtles and other exotic wildlife are also repeatedly smuggled through Thailand.


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