Vietnam Bust Nets 860 kgs Ivory tusks, two tonnes of Pangolin Scales

Vietnam Bust Nets 860 kgs Ivory tusks, two tonnes of Pangolin Scales
Tuesday, 24 November, 2015
Cape Town, South Africa

Vietnam authorities confiscated almost a tonne of elephant tusks on Sunday, bringing to almost five tonnes the amount of ivory seized in the south-east Asian country since August 2015. Two tonnes of pangolin scales were also found in Sunday’s haul.

The consignment was intercepted by customs officers in northern Quang Ninh Province, smuggled from Taiwan, Province of China. The contraband was disguised as “frozen fish” and was found in 1,300 boxes of frozen fish heads.

It is Vietnam’s fourth large scale seizure of ivory since August 12, when 603 kgs ivory were confiscated in Da Nang from a ship that had travelled from Mozambique; and followed by further large scale busts of 2,3 tonnes and one tonne also in Dan Nang.

In total media reports indicate 4,859 tonnes of ivory have been seized by Vietnam since August.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare said that while it applauded Vietnam’s tough stance against trafficking and the confiscation of illegal ivory and other wildlife, it was crucial that governments looked beyond seizures as the answer to disrupting trafficking.

“Seizures of ivory are always good news in the fight against poaching and illegal trafficking because they indicate improved levels of law enforcement, but seizures are the public face of a very tragic scenario that is killing up to 50,000 elephants a year and shows no sign of abating,” said Kelvin Alie, Director of IFAW’s Wildlife Trade Programme. The IUCN says the African elephant population currently stands at 470,000 down from 550,000 in 2006.

“Unfortunately their successes are only proving to highlight the extent of the problem. If we are to save elephants we need to address every link in the ivory chain. That means stopping the killing, stopping the trafficking and stopping the demand,” said Alie.

Today British customs authorities announced that they too had a made a significant confiscation of 110 kgs of ivory, found in luggage abandoned at London’s Heathrow Airport while in transit from Angola on October 14th.

UK Director of IFAW, Philip Mansbridge, said: “Border Force officers are to be congratulated for their work in seizing this ivory, which represents a number of dead elephants. Horrifyingly about one elephant is killed for its ivory every 15 minutes in Africa”.

 Wildlife crime ranks among the most serious, dangerous and damaging of international crimes along with human trafficking, drug running and illegal arms sales.

“The only way countries and others are going to stop poaching of elephants and illegal trade is by cooperating with agencies such as Interpol, and the law enforcement bodies of other governments to map and profile those behind this transnational criminal activity and dedicate the resources needed to reduce the capacity of those who seek profit from ivory trafficking,” said Alie.

As one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities, valued at US$19-billion annually, illegal wildlife trade ranks fifth globally in terms of value, behind the trafficking in drugs, people, oil and counterfeiting.

Most illegal ivory is destined for Asia, in particular China, where it has soared in value as an investment vehicle and is coveted as “white gold”. Availability of legal ivory in China purchased form the stockpile sale in southern Africa in 2008 has, in turn, boosted demand encouraging illegal ivory trade and the poaching of elephant to meet market needs.

To date, more than 2,800 participants have attended IFAW’s Prevention of Wildlife Trafficking trainings across 81 training workshops in approximately 38 countries. Many of these have been conducted in partnership with INTERPOL.


The IFAW report, Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade, documents the threat the illegal trade poses to animals like elephants and rhinos, and also people.

The learn more about the illegal ivory trade, download IFAW’s digital magazine Unveiling the Ivory Trade.

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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