May 22, 2013 / 2:38 PM / 6 years ago

Dubai authorities seize shipment of 259 elephant tusks

DUBAI (Reuters) - Customs officials in United Arab Emirates have seized hundreds of elephant tusks shipped from Africa marked as furniture, the Ministry of Environment and Water said.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said in a statement that the container came from Mombasa in Kenya.

Poaching has risen in recent years across sub-Saharan Africa, where well-armed criminal gangs have killed elephants and rhinos for tusks that are often shipped to Asia for use in ornaments and some medicines.

The UAE ministry said the shipment, containing 259 pieces of ivory, was discovered by customs officials at Dubai’s Jebel Ali port on May 1.

It was the second shipment of its kind to be seized by Dubai customs officials since November, when 215 elephant tusks worth an estimated $4 million en route from Kenya to Hong Kong was intercepted.

That shipment had been concealed in bags marked “red beans”.

Wildlife officials say smugglers use Dubai because of its role as a busy international import and export hub.

“It is not surprising that wildlife trade is part of this mix,” said Elsayed Mohamed, IFAW’s Middle East Regional Director.

Reporting by Amena Bakr; editing by Sami Aboudi

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