x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Ivory smuggler arrested at airport

A passenger is arrested in Dubai on charges of smuggling illegal ivory.

DUBAI // An ivory smuggler attempting to pass through Dubai International Airport has been arrested.

The passenger faces a fine or imprisonment, officials said on Thursday.

Police did not disclose how the smuggler was caught, where the ivory had come from or its intended destination.

The smuggler's identity was not revealed.

Police said the polished ivory had originally been taken from the tusks of an African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana). Items seized included bracelets.

Ivory trading is illegal but it has not been completely wiped out and many elephants are killed for their tusks each year, experts say.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) lists products from the African bush elephant as being banned for trade.

The UAE became a signatory to Cites in 1990, represented by the Ministry of Environment and Water.

Dr Reza Khan, Dubai Municipality's wildlife and zoo specialist, said the international community was doing its best to control illegal trading but demand for ivory dates back hundreds of years.

"In some small African countries, where ivory is a community's bread and butter, it is officially regulated by Cites to avoid brutality," Dr Khan said. "The problem is demand for real ivory is too high in places like South-east Asia, for various uses such as medicine, jewellery and decorative objects."