Chinese customs officials seize ton of mammoth tusks at border

Chinese customs officials in Harbin City, China, displayed items on Wednesday, including 100 tusks from extinct mammoths, seized in Loubei, China, on the Russia border. Over on ton of mammoth tusks were seized as they were smuggled from Russia. Photo courtesy of China News Service

April 13 (UPI) — More than 100 mammoth tusks were part of a collection of seized ivory and jade smuggled from Russia, Chinese officials said.

Tusks of the extinct animal are found in the Siberian tundra, where melting ice from global warming have made the ivory easier to find. The seized items, which included 1.07 tons of mammoth tusks; 37 woolly rhinoceros horn parts weighing 160 pounds, and 1.1 tons of nephrite, from which jade is extracted, were found in February in a truck entering Luobei, China, from Russia. The largest mammoth artifact was 5 feet long, a customs official told the BBC.

There is no international ban on a trade in mammoth tusks, but Chinese authorities said the material was not declared when it arrived at the Russia-China border. The unidentified truck driver and the owner of the illegal goods each were arrested.

The haul was seized in February, but displayed Tuesday by Chinese customs officials in Harbin City, in northeastern Heilongjiang province.

Mammoths became extinct about 10,000 years ago, but an estimated 10 million mammoths fossils remain confined in the Siberian permafrost, the BBC noted, citing a comment by Dr. Douglas Macmillan of the University of Kent.


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