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Madagascar seizes rosewood containers at port
by Staff Writers
Antananarivo (AFP) July 11, 2011

Madagascan authorities impounded six containers of rosewood, precious timber whose export is banned, at a port in the northwest of the country and detained a lawmker, officials said Monday.

Inspectors at Iharana port found the containers in a lot of 43 which were being loaded for shipment to India via Mauritius on Saturday.

"Strict measures will be taken without exception against those who continue to exploit this sector despite the efforts by the government to fight the trafficking of precious wood," Prime Minister Camille Vital said.

Lawmaker Ezechiel Razafindramaro was arrested last week on a separate case of rosewood trafficking.

"I have no intention to pardon or protect him...," said Raharinaivo Andrianantaondro, the head of the country's transitional council.

The dark brown and streaky rosewood is prized for marquetry and highly profitable, with a 20-foot container fetching between 60,000 and 100,000 dollars.

Madagascar has 47 species of rosewood and over 100 ebony species that occur nowhere else, but are threatened with extinction due to illegal logging.

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