Thai officials confirmed this morning (Thursday, January 6) that they had confiscated 69 elephant tusks and four smaller pieces of ivory, in transit from Mozambique, in Bangkok. The ivory, in total, was worth more than $300,000, weighing in at around 430kg.
"The customs department said the tusks were found on Wednesday at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport in two boxes bound for Laos, declared as personal goods, although officials believe the tusks were due to be re-imported to Thailand."
International law does indeed make it illegal to trade in ivory, and specifically to ship any of it - the 1989 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) banned the ivory trade and, at an international level, ingrained the hunting of these creatures as a crime. Poaching of African elephants can be particularly extensive due, in some part, to their physiology: African elephants, male and female, will uniformly be found with tusks, whereas, with an Asian elephant, about 50% of Asian females only have short tusks (or tushes), which have none of the inner pulp of fully grown tusks.In spite of restrictions on the shipping of ivory from Africa, Bangkok has become known as a centre for illegal trafficking in this product - Thai law has actually facilitated this trade in the past due to the country not listing domesticated Asian elephants (traditionally used as beasts of burden), as an endangered species. Thailand has, more recently, been labeled an often-used "transit point for the illegal trafficking of animal parts", as well as, interestingly, a hub for the actual carving of ivory.Not surprisingly, no arrests have been made yet, because the parcel's collectors haven't arrived to collect it.