UAE seizes 260 illegal elephant tusks

Shipment of illegal ivory believed to be biggest Gulf state has seen

(AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

(AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

Authorities in the UAE seized 259 illegal elephant tusks smuggled out of Africa, the International Wildlife Fund for Animal Welfare said.

The tusks were found at Dubai’s port in a contained labelled as wooden furniture that had been shipped out of the Kenyan city of Mombasa.

The seizure, believed to be the largest shipment of illegal ivory ever discovered in the Gulf state, took place on May 1 but was only announced on Tuesday.

"This seizure is yet another distressing indictment of East Africa, which is now recognised as a clearing house for the illegal ivory trade," James Isiche, the fund's regional director for eastern Africa, was quoted as saying by AFP.

The fund said that the majority of ivory was headed to markets in Asia such as China.

Dubai police earlier this week launched a new campaign to combat the smuggling of elephant ivory tusks.

The new initiative is part of an ongoing bid by Dubai authorities to clamp down on the illegal shipment of elephant tusks from Africa to the Far East.

According to media reports, the police awareness campaign was launched in Dubai's International Airport and Transit lounges.

Although international trade in ivory tusks was banned in 1989, ivory remains in high demand in the Far East leading to the continued slaughter of elephants in the Africa region.

By some estimates, up to 750,000 elephants were killed for their tusks in the 1980s leaving a population of 600,000 at the dawn of the 1990s decade when the ban was brought into effect.

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