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Vietnam seizes seven tonnes of ivory from Angola

HANOI (AFP) – Vietnamese officials seized seven tonnes of elephant ivory on Monday smuggled from Angola, the largest seizure in years, authorities said.

Customs officials in the northern port city of Haiphong, 100 kilometres from Hanoi, found the ivory in a 20-foot container that had been declared to be carrying peanuts.

Photos on the official website of the customs department showed hundreds of long ivory tusks piled up in front of an open shipping container.

The cargo was shipped to Vietnam through Singapore, authorities said.

Tusks and other body parts of elephants are prized as talismans and for use in traditional medicine across parts of Asia despite a lack of peer-reviewed scientific evidence that they have any medicinal properties.

Vietnam officially outlawed the ivory trade in 1992 but remains a transport hub for illegal wildlife in Asia.

More than 60 tonnes of ivory, pangolin scales, and rhino horns have been seized at major Vietnamese shipping ports since 2018, according to a 2021 report by Education for Nature Vietnam, a wildlife protection non-governmental organisation (NGO).

A court in Vietnam jailed a man for 13 years last month for trafficking nearly 10 tonnes of rhino horns, pangolin scales, and other banned wildlife products from Africa.