Manila (AFP) May 20, 2009
Philippine customs police have seized an illegal cargo of elephant tusks shipped from Tanzania, the government said Wednesday.
The cargo, which was offloaded at the port of Manila, was fraudulently declared as a blow-moulding machine but customs inspectors instead found 98 sacks of plastics scraps, prompting them to hold the container and make a full check of its contents.
They later found carton-loads of elephant tusks worth 60 million pesos (1.27 million dollars) concealed inside, the Environment and Natural Resources Department said without saying how many tusks were found.
As a signatory to a global convention against the trade in endangered species, customs authorities seized the cargo, the department said in a statement.
If the authorities prove that the tusks were harvested in Africa, the importer, who has not claimed the shipment, faces up to two years in prison and a 200,000-peso fine, it added.
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