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  • » 02/26/2010, 00.00

    THAILAND

    Record ivory seizure in Bangkok, destined for China



    Some 239 tusks worth US$ 3.6 million were seized. The African ivory was destined for Laos, but authorities believe it was meant for China’s black market. China is a major world market for ivory.
    Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In a press release, Thailand’s Customs Department said it seized two tonnes of ivory at Bangkok International Airport. Valued at US$ 3.6 million, the seizure is the country's largest-ever quantity of ivory.

    The shipment flown on an Emirates flight was declared at Thai customs as mobile phone parts to take advantage of Thailand's agreement with Laos not to check cargo in transit. Thailand is a transit point for ivory forwarded to other markets such as China.

    "Normally, this would have gone right through but we got the tip-off,” said Seree Thaijongrak, director of the investigation and suppression bureau for Thai customs.

    Customs officials searched a transit cargo warehouse at the airport on Wednesday evening and found a consignment of 239 elephant tusks from South Africa

    About 38,000 African elephants are killed each year for their tusks out of a total estimated population of half a million.

    Since 1898, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has banned the international ivory trade.  It does however allow for domestic sales.

    Thailand, which is home to the Asian elephant, has its own ivory for use by local craftspeople. However, the latter is indistinguishable from African ivory. This has made Thailand a transit point for ivory forwarded to other markets such as China or South-East Asia.

    China remains one of the largest importers of ivory. In 2008, the United Nations allowed China to trade with Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and e Zimbabwe in order to counter the illegal ivory trade.

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    See also

    17/07/2008 CHINA - SOUTH AFRICA
    Animal rights activists on war footing against ivory market in China
    The organisation that deals with trade in endangered species has approved exchange between China and South Africa, allowing the Asian country to import 51 tonnes. In Kenya, three Chinese are arrested under the accusation of "illegal trafficking" of ivory.

    19/06/2006 CHINA – AFRICA
    Wen Jiabao'as Africa tour continues in Ghana
    Wen highlights collaboration and friendship with Egypt and Ghana and describes China as a friend of Africa. Experts point out though that China is willing to do business with and sell weapons to dictatorial regimes.

    16/01/2008 CHINA – AFRICA
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    The authorities in Sierra Leone complain that foreign (mostly Chinese) companies have plundered the country’s timber, cutting it down indiscriminately, and exporting it without any benefit for local communities. Experts note that issue revolves around the extent to which Chinese aid can compensate for what the mainland extracts and takes out in terms of precious resources.

    03/01/2006 CHINA - AFRICA
    China-Africa ties grow and tip global balance

    Beijing imports oil, metals and agricultural products too. It makes funds available and exports merchandise, manpower and technical expertise. Political ties are intense, even in the face of opposition from Europe and the US. More than 700 Chinese companies are at work in 49 African countries.



    05/02/2007 CHINA - ZAMBIA
    Public protests against Hu Jintao
    The government gave the Chinese president a warm welcome and announced economic exemptions for Chinese firms. But workers and the opposition greeted Hu with protests and criticism. Beijing stands accused of exploiting miners and textile workers, taking away the country’s precious copper and opening fire on workers who protest. In Sudan, business was the only topic of discussions.



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