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Ivory trade reportedly rampant in border town

By Wang Qingchu (Shanghai Daily)

13:58, February 07, 2012

IVORY smuggling and trading is rampant in a small town in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, with elephant tusks sneaked across the border, a report said yesterday.

A large number of elephant tusks and ivory products are smuggled into Puzhai, at the border of China and Vietnam, every year before they are traded and delivered to affluent consumers, the Beijing News reported. The trade in Puzhai was said to be on a scale "unmatched" elsewhere, Guangxi police told the newspaper.

In a crackdown against illegal trading of ivory products launched last September by the Guangxi police, 859 ivory objects were discovered in 16 shops in Puzhai. In another raid, 707 tusks were seized, meaning that more than 350 elephants were slaughtered, the report said.

Exquisite art crafts made of ivory were publicly displayed in shop windows. Police found most of the dealers were businessmen selling mahogany furniture. They often stashed the ivory products with furniture and shipped them to Fujian, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, according to the report.

Ivory smuggling is difficult to wipe because dealers and buyers are usually privileged wealthy people who can influence investigations, said Huang Qun, director of the forensic center of State Forestry Public Security Bureau.

"These people have a lot of connections. Even if they were tracked down, police didn't probe deeper and prosecutors might drop the charge," Huang was quoted as saying.

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