Ivory smugglers were dealt a massive blow last week, on April the 18th, when Thai officers seized more than four tonnes of tusks in the port of Bangkok, in what officials called the largest bust of ivory in the history of Thailand. Almost 740 elephant tusks, valued at about $6 million on the black market, were discovered during a police raid launched after the authorities were tipped off.
The ivory was hidden in bags of dried beans coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo with Laos as the final destination, the Customs Department’s Director-General Somchai Sujjapongse told reporters on Tuesday. The confiscated ivory would be destroyed, said the quoted source. Thai officials were monitoring the shipment for more than eight weeks before the raid was green lit.
“We consider this the biggest seizure in Thai history. We believe that this ivory was due to be sold to customers in China, Vietnam and Thailand,” journalists have been told in a statement signed by the Thai Customs Department.
The operation comes in line with Thailand’s National Ivory Action Plan, a set of measures initiated by the Government to curb ivory trafficking. Early this year, Bangkok has announced an amnesty for those who own ivory, in exchange for registration. In the past three months, more than 150 tonnes of ivory have been registered under this programme.
In 2013, more than 20,000 African elephants were killed for their tusks, according to a monitoring program published by CITES (Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species). The massacre left around 500,000 elephants in Africa.