(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Dubai Customs recently foiled an attempt to smuggle 215 ivory tusks - worth around Dh15 million - into the country through Jebel Ali Port.
According to a senior official, the contraband was extracted from 40 cartons, which according to the Customs declaration form, were said to be stuffed with white beans. Saeed Ahmed Al Tayer, Director of Jebel Ali Customs Centres, said the staff inspectors had doubts over the cargo coming from an African country, because X-ray scans showed discrepancies over some parts of the shipment.
Al Tayer spoke of the seizure: "A large amount of ivory tusks, extracted from around 108 elephants of different ages, were identified during the manual search." Al Tayer said the weight, volume and smuggling technique, proved that the contraband was meant for trafficking. He continued: "The vigilant and intensively trained Customs inspectors have efficiently thwarted the attempt."
Al Tayer added that the contraband has been referred to the Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW), in line with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which the UAE joined in 1990.
"Having been examined by the MOEW, the seizure proved to be that of endangered Loxodonta
Africana as per Federal Law No11/2002 which streamlines international trade in animals and plants liable to extinction."
Al Tayer revealed how ivory smugglers illegally kill scores of elephants and hippopotamuses, to later sell their tusks for decorations as well as for use in the manufacturing of folk medicines. "Wildlife experts affirm an increasing demand from international gangs for smuggled ivory worldwide," he said.
So far this year, Dubai Customs have busted 19 attempts to smuggle endangered animals, plants and their products into the country through the Dubai International Airport.
Some of the items seized included stuffed animals and birds, leather patches, horns, hooves and ivory tusks.
Ahmed Mahboob Musabah, Executive Director of Clients Management Division told Khaleej Times: "Some of the biggest busts in 2010 saw the seizure of 27kg of sandalwood, 53 patches of animal leather and 31 ivory products."
The majority of items confiscated during such seizures originate from Africa and are then exported Europe-wide.
As per the statistics of the United Nations Environment Programme, crime syndicates earn around 22-31 billion every year by smuggling proscribed hazardous materials and exploiting and trafficking protected natural resources.
Feryal Tawakul, Executive Director of Community Affairs and Government Partnership Division, said smuggling endangered animals, plants and their products is incriminated in several international legislations, including the CITES Convention.
"The UAE Federal Law No11/2002, regulating international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora restricts exportation, transit, unloading, re-shipping, re-exporting or entry of any animals or plants or their parts or products without official approvals, certificates and attestation."
Dubai Customs: Seizure of endangered animals and plants and their products
Year No. of Seizures