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Thailand seizes £350,000 haul of African elephant tusks

Smuggled: The haul consisted of three large tasks and 31 fragments PICTURE: EPA

AUTHORITIES in Thailand have seized thousands of pounds worth of smuggled elephant tusks.

The haul of around £350,000 worth of ivory was discovered at Bangkok airport on January 5 on a plane destined for China.

After officials flagged the cargo of the plane they discovered three large tusks and 31 tusk fragments.

Officials said the size of the tusks show they were taken from at-risk African elephants. Discoloration suggests they have been in storage for a long time.

Somkiat Soontornpittakkool, an official from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said: ‘From what I can tell, these ivory tusks were taken from very big elephants, and elephants of that size are now hard to find even in Africa.

‘And judging from how the tusks look, they appear to have been taken a while ago. They weren’t hunted recently. They were taken and stored for a while before smugglers sent them out.’

Haul: Forensic experts work on confiscated elephant tusks PICTURE: REUTERS

The seized ivory will now be impounded as police widen their investigations to identify suspects involved in the smuggling.

Thailand is still considered a major transit hub and destination for smuggled tusks, but the biggest demand comes from China.

Last year, Thai officials seized 510 smuggled elephant tusks fragments in four separate cases.

Rhinoceros horns, pangolin scales, turtles, and other exotic wildlife are also repeatedly smuggled through Thailand.