A monthly update on press coverage of the international illegal ivory trade. 

This month’s seizures represent at least 321 dead elephants…

1st March – Brussels, Belgium
Results of Operation GAPIN announced.  This was a two week transregional operation carried out in January and February, with 14 African countries taking part, supported by 25 countries in Asia and Europe and coordinated by the World Customs Organisation.  Among the 22 tonnes of illegally traded wildlife seized were 57kg of raw ivory and 295 worked pieces in various forms such as jewellery, statues and chopsticks. Press report
4th March – Ntam, southeastern Cameroon
A 30 tonne truck carrying 300 bags of cocoa from Sembe in Republic of the Congo to Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital, is stopped by game rangers at Ntam village.  A 5kg tusk is found in a brief case in the driver’s compartment and on closer inspection 20 elephant tusks are found hidden in a rear compartment of the truck.  Five people including the driver are arrested.  The tusks are suspected to have been poached in nearby Nki National Park, part of a protected area network of Parks whose anti-poaching strategy is being undermined by lack of funds to support their activities.  Press report
8th March - Paris
French customs officials seize 40kg of ivory consisting of elephant tusks and statues of warriors and religious figures from a private residence in Paris. Press report
26th  March - Ruili, Dehong Prefacture, Yunnan Province, China
At least 12 elephant tusks and a large number of other illegal wildlife products are found by local police in a rented house in a border town close to Myanmar, from where the items were reportedly smuggled and used to fund illegal drug purchasing.  Press report
29th March – Nakorn Sawan Province, Thailand
Police raids of two underground illegal ivory carving factories yield an undisclosed amount of raw ivory including two large pieces of elephant tusk as well as mammoth ivory and hippo and walrus teeth.  The factories are said to supply a number of Thai businesses with carved ivory.  Press reports

30th March – Bangkok Port, Thailand
This 2,033kg (247 tusks) ivory seizure is Thailand’s largest ever and the first to take place at a port, showing a change in ivory smuggling routes as previous methods become less effective in evading customs inspections.  The haul is made following an X-ray scan of a shipping container labeled as ‘frozen mackerel’ which had originated in Kenya.  Press report

? March - Seoul, South Korea
Korea Customs Service search the luggage of a South Korean diplomat on his return from Cote d’Ivoire to find 16 pieces of ivory weighing 60kg, representing the first seizure of ivory made by the country since joining CITES in 1993. Press report
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