x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Dubai police foil attempt to smuggle Dh15m of ivory

Authorities foil an attempt to smuggle 215 pieces of ivory hidden in vegetable boxes at Jebel Ali Port.

It is believed the ivory was poached from 108 elephants of various ages.
It is believed the ivory was poached from 108 elephants of various ages.

DUBAI // Ivory worth an estimated Dh15 million has been intercepted at Jebel Ali Port.

The shipment of 215 pieces was hidden in 40 boxes containing green beans from an undisclosed African country, according to Wam, the state news agency.

It is believed the ivory was poached from 108 elephants of various ages.

This was the second reported case of an attempt to smuggle ivory being foiled in Dubai this year.

In March, 1.5 tonnes was intercepted in Sri Lanka on its way to Dubai. The shipment was from Kenya, with ivory hidden in containers marked as plastic waste.

Ivory usually only passes through the country en route to the Far East. The UAE's prominent position as a trading hub makes it a target for poachers.

"The UAE is a centre for general trade and it offers infrastructure to promote trade. Naturally, they will attract a part of wildlife trade and part of it will be illegal," said Dr Elsayyed Mohamed, programme manager at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, after a seminar on wildlife smuggling in Abu Dhabi last year.

African elephants are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Asian Elephants are endangered, signifying a higher degree of threat.

To protect populations, the international trade in ivory was banned in 1989. The rules were relaxed in 1999 and 2008, allowing one-off sales from several African countries to Japan and China, the world's largest consumer of ivory.

In June this year, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) reported that elephant-poaching levels were the worst in a decade.

Last year, about 24.3 tonnes of ivory was seized, more than in any previous year. Seizures of more than 800 kilogrammes at a time indicates the participation of organised crime, according to the Cites report.

vtodorova@thenational.ae