What is ivory used for


Smuggled ivory seized by Hai Phong Customs on March 23, 2024.
Smuggled ivory seized by Hai Phong Customs on March 23, 2024.

Recently, on March 23, 2024, Hai Phong Customs Department chaired and coordinated with the Economic Police Department (Hai Phong City Police), Team 1 (Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department, General Department of Customs), Reconnaissance Team No. 1 (Coast Guard Command) examined a suspected shipment packed in a container at Lach Huyen international port and discovered nearly 1.6 tons of smuggled African ivory.

Previously, in 2023, Hai Phong Customs Department presided over and seized more than 8 tons of smuggled ivory.

Through the above evidence, the situation of smuggling ivory from abroad to Vietnam still poses many complicated risks.

The question is, what is ivory used for that subjects still use all tricks to find ways to smuggle it?

According to Ms. Bui Thi Ha, Deputy Director, Education for Nature Center (ENV), one of the basic reasons why ivory smuggling is still complicated comes from profit.

According to many experts, profits from wildlife trafficking (including ivory) or environmental crimes in general are second only to drug trafficking, human trafficking and counterfeit goods.

For example, at one time (on the illegal market), 1 kg of ivory bought in Africa cost only about 50 USD. But when brought to the market, the price can be up to 2,000 USD/kg, with profits dozens of times higher.

The second reason is that the risk from illegal wildlife transport and trade in Vietnam is still low. Because legal policies related to handling violations of animal and wildlife trade in our country have been issued quite fully and appropriately, but the detection, arrest and handling of smugglers are still low although many arrests have been made.

Regarding unofficially spread information about the effects of wild animal products such as rhino horn, pangolin scales or elephant ivory, etc, Ms. Bui Thi Ha said, according to the concept of some Eastern countries, in which there is Vietnam, rhino horn and pangolin scales are used in some oriental medicine. However, until now there is no scientific evidence to prove the therapeutic effects of these products.

Meanwhile, ivory is often used to make handicrafts and feng shui items. In addition, owning wild animal products also shows the wealth and willingness of some tycoons, etc.

However, all of the concepts and thoughts mentioned above are no longer suitable for the current civilized, integrated lifestyle and are one of the reasons why wildlife trafficking is still happening complicatedly.

To effectively prevent ivory and wildlife smuggling, Ms. Bui Thi Ha requested that the authorities need to show high determination, strengthen investigation, and destroy rings and leaders of the rings that are illegally transporting tons of animals and wildlife products to Vietnam.

In addition, it is necessary to strengthen propaganda so that people do not use, do not buy and sell, and do not assist those who smuggle animals and wildlife products.

According to Dr. Dang Tat The, former Head of the Department of Molecular Systematics and Conservation Genetics (Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology), ivory and ivory products of African elephants which are banned from trade according to the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).


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