​3 elephant tusks, 1 ivory pieces worth $500,000 smuggled from Nigeria

Ivory worth $469,800 smuggled from Nigeria has been seized in Thailand, customs officials said on Friday, January 12.

Three elephant tusks and 31 ivory pieces weighing a combined 148 kilograms were seized at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, Kulit Sombatsiri, director general of the customs department told a press conference.

The smuggled goods were shipped from Lagos to Bangkok on an Ethiopian Airlines flight on December 20.

Photos: Three elephant tusks, 31 ivory pieces worth almost $500,000 smuggled from Nigeria, seized at International Airport in Thailand

Two weeks later, as no one came to pick up the packages, airport officials opened them up to find the smuggled goods, Kulit said.

“The registered address in Thailand also doesn’t exist,” the director general said. “The massive size of the tusks indicate that they did not belong to Thai elephants. We will need to conduct a DNA test to determine where they really come from,” he added.

Ivory trade has been outlawed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), but smuggling from Africa into Asia persists.

Thai customs officials believe ivory smuggled through Thailand is intended for China, one of the world’s biggest consumers of ivory products.

Since October 2016, Thai customs agents have seized more than 1 billion dollars’ worth of smuggled endangered species and their products in 52 separate cases.