Vietnamese authorities have intercepted 2.7 metric tons (MT) of ivory hidden in a fruit shipment bound for Hanoi from Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), newspaper Tuoi Tre reported.
State media reported the tusks originated from South Africa, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.
Tuoi Tre reported the interception was the biggest seizure of ivory tusks to date in the country’s Thanh Hoa province.
According to NGO Conservation Action Trust, the Vietnamese ivory trade is now one of the largest in the world with almost all elephant tusks smuggled from Africa.
“There appears to be little law enforcement within Vietnam against the illegal ivory workshops and retail shops, especially in the smaller locations that few Western foreigners visit,” the trust said in its summary of a 2016 report “Vietnam’s illegal ivory trade threatens African elephants”.
“In HCMC, Hanoi, one town and village in the Central Highlands, and two villages in the north we counted 242 open outlets with 16,099 ivory items on display, for retail sale.
“Nearly all the ivory items for sale in Vietnam are new or recently carved and illegal.”
The ivory trade has been illegal in Vietnam since 1992