700 kg of ivory, rhino horns from Mozambique seized in Vietnam


2015-08-17) Vietnamese police have seized an illegal shipment of over 700 kilos of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horns, believed to have originated in Mozambique, according to the Agence France Presse news agency, citing Vietnamese media.

The newspaper “Tuoi Tre” reported that the illicit wildlife products were found in two containers on board a ship at Da Nang port on Thursday. There were 593 kilos of ivory and 142 kilos of rhino horn, hidden among a consignment of marble from Mozambique.

The ship carrying the containers had come via Malaysia, and the final destination of the ivory and rhino horn was believed to be Hai Phong, a port in northern Vietnam.

This is the second seizure in Vietnam in the space of two days. According to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA), on Wednesday 100 kilos of wildlife products were caught being smuggled into Vietnam through the Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi. No details were given, but it is suspected that the goods in question were ivory and rhino horns.

Vietnamese citizens have been caught on several occasions at Maputo international airport attempting to smuggle rhino horn out of the country. Since both species of African rhinoceros, the black and the white, are believed to be extinct in Mozambique, the horns probably came from animals killed over the border, in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

Poachers have done enormous damage to Mozambique’s elephant herds in recent years. The latest elephant census showed that the number of elephants in Mozambique declined by 48 per cent in five years – from just over 20,000 in 2009 to 10,300 in 2014.

The seizures in Da Nang and at Hanoi airport come shortly after the visit to Mozambique in late July by the Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister, Hoang Trung Hai. Although nothing was said publicly, its seems likely that one of the matters under discussion would have been the illicit traffic in wildlife parts, particularly rhino horn, between southern Africa and Vietnam.

Rhino horn is in demand in Vietnam because of claims that it is a miraculous cure for all ailments from hangovers to cancer. In fact, rhino horn is made of keratin, the same protein found in human hair and fingernails, and has no medicinal properties at all.

The Vietnamese authorities have waged sporadic campaigns to warn the public that rhino horn cannot cure any diseases. Yet demand remains high, ensuring that rhino horn fetches a higher price than the equivalent weight of gold or cocaine.

Source: AIM

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