Customs officials in Heilongjiang discovered a mammoth haul of smuggled goods in February, seizing 1 tonne of mammoth ivory from inside a truck that was trying to cross the border from Russia.
The ivory was hidden inside secret compartments in the truck. In total, authorities found 107 mammoth tusks, 37 wooly rhino horns and 1.11 tonnes of jade, according to a recently released report about the bust.
The truck claimed to carrying a cargo of soy beans across the Luobei border crossing in far northeastern China. When customs officials told the driver that they needed to inspect the truck, he made a run for it.
The driver was caught later that month at a hotel along with the owner of the truck who had installed the secret smuggling compartments.
China has pledged to end all domestic ivory sales by the end of this year. To make good on that pledge, authorities began closing some 67 licensed ivory carving factories and retail shops at the end of last month — one-third of the country’s total. While some believe that this move by the Chinese government could manage to save the African elephant, other experts have worried that corrupt officials will limit the effect of the ban.
Despite being extinct for over 4,000 years, mammoths could also harm the ban, making it harder to enforce. Some 150 million mammoth carcasses have been uncovered as the Siberian tundra’s permafrost melts and it’s estimated that 100 tonnes of mammoth tusks are exported by Russia each year. Most of that goes to China where traders use the tusks to mask the illegal sale of elephant ivory.
[Images via NetEase]
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