Bangkok (dpa) – Thai customs officers have seized a haul of 739 ivory tusks illegally imported from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, media reports said Tuesday.
The tusks, weighing about four tonnes and worth an estimated 200 million baht (6.2 million dollars), were in transit to Laos when they were found in a container at Bangkok’s Klong Toey port, according to customs officials.
Customs Department director-general Somchai Satjapong was quoted by Thai PBS broadcasting as saying the haul was the biggest-ever ivory seizure in Thailand.
He said the shipment was tracked after it was loaded into a container and put on board a freighter at the port of Matadi township about two months ago in Congo.
The freighter arrived in Malaysia, and the illegal cargo was transferred to another ship bound for Thailand.
The container was off-loaded April 18 in Bangkok, and the cargo was to be hauled overland to Laos.
From there is was believed to be destined for customers in China, Vietnam and Thailand to be carved into trinkets.
Somchai said the recipient company in Laos has been blacklisted by Thailand, and Lao authorities have been asked to investigate the company.
Despite international efforts to curb the ivory trade, wildlife officials estimate as many as 20,000 African elephants are killed annually for their tusks.