With more than 9 tonness of ivory seized, this is set to be the world’s largest ivory seizure ever made. Vietnamese customs in Da Nang, made the discovery after inspecting a container of timber that had arrived from the Republic of Congo.
According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), the seizure represents well over 1000 dead elephants, thus making the total of seizures all over the years in Vietnam since 2004 to more than 70 tonnes.
Vietnam’s pivotal role in the illegal wildlife trade has been exposed time and again. Although the country has made many seizures, little enforcement follow-up has been recorded.
EIA recent report, Exposing the Hydra, revealed the operations of Vietnamese-led syndicates in illegally sourcing and trafficking ivory and other wildlife from Africa into Vietnam and China. However, to date, no notable enforcement action has been taken in Vietnam against the individuals they have identified; instead the response of the Government of Vietnam has been to reject and deny their incontrovertible investigation findings, along with information from other sources.
Mary Rice, Executive Director of EIA said: “While we welcome today’s ivory seizure in Vietnam, we would emphasize that without follow-up efforts resulting in prosecutions and appropriate penalties, seizures alone are no deterrent to the criminals involved in wildlife trafficking.”
If world governments do not use this important meeting to adopt urgent measures against illegal wildlife trade, elephants stand little chance of surviving in the wild.