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Illegal Ivory Trade Continues In Malaysia As Authorities Seize 1,500 Smuggled Elephant Tusks

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysian authorities have seized 1,500 elephant tusks in a $20 million shipment that was believed to have been headed to China.

Customs official Azis Yacub says inspectors at Port Klang harbor last week found 24 tons of unprocessed tusks hidden in secret compartments in containers of timber. He says the shipment originated from Togo and sailed to Spain, where it was transferred to another ship before arriving in Malaysia.

He said in a statement received Wednesday that intelligence showed the shipment was to be moved to another ship before heading to China. No arrests have been made.

Malaysia has stepped up inspections for illegal ivory after wildlife groups said the country was becoming a transit hub for tusks amid robust demand in China that has decimated African elephant populations.

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