Cambodian officials have seized 1.5 tonnes of illegal ivory and animal parts hidden in a timber shipment from Mozambique that was destined for China, a wildlife charity and an official said on Thursday. The huge haul highlights the Southeast Asian nation’s key role in a lucrative and ecologically disastrous illegal wildlife trade primarily fuelled by Chinese demand. According to Wildlife Alliance, a Cambodia-based conservation group which helps authorities track smugglers, customs officials made the bust while searching some shipping containers last Friday on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
Pictures released by Wildlife Alliance from the raid showed customs officers standing behind hundreds of elephant tusks stacked on wooden palettes and bags filled with pangolin scales. Hidden behind rare timber logs, they found 1.3 tonnes of African elephant tusks, 10 cheetah skulls, 82 kilograms (180 pounds) of animal bones and 137 kilograms of pangolin scales. Conservationists have voiced concern that Cambodiahas emerged as a key transit route for African ivory in recent years. — AFP