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Smuggled African Ivory Seized In Bangkok, Thailand

Elephant Ivory

02/25/11 08:20 AM ET   AP

BANGKOK — Thai authorities on Friday displayed a ton of illicitly smuggled African elephant ivory and rhino horns seized at Bangkok's airport, a haul described as a victory for better international intelligence sharing among wildlife officials.

The Customs Department says the 118 tusks and 50 additional cut pieces of ivory, along with three rhino horns weighing a total of 6 pounds (2.7 kilograms) are worth more than $1.7 million.

The tusks were found Wednesday at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport in 11 boxes declared as crafts, after a roundabout journey from Lagos, Nigeria via Doha, Qatar and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

"Nigeria, despite having few elephants within its borders, is a major departure point for poached ivory from Africa," said FREELAND, a Bangkok-based NGO that fights wildlife and human trafficking.

The group said the seizure was the sixth law enforcement action against ivory smugglers since an intelligence sharing meeting between Thai and African wildlife officials late last year.

It said U.S. agencies, including the Fish and Wildlife Service, supported the cooperation, and more such meetings would be held in Africa this year.

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Filed by Joanna Zelman  |