Ivory worth $2m seized in New York

2012-07-12 22:17
Mukesh Gupta and Johnson Jung-Chien Lu pleaded guilty to illegal commercialisation of wildlife. (Bebeto Matthews, AP)

Mukesh Gupta and Johnson Jung-Chien Lu pleaded guilty to illegal commercialisation of wildlife. (Bebeto Matthews, AP)

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New York - New York authorities announced on Thursday the seizure of elephant ivory with a retail value of more than $2m. Two Asian jewellery stores were also charged with selling items containing the illegal ivory.

"Poachers should not have a market in Manhattan," said District Attorney Cyrus Vance. "It is unacceptable that tusks from elephants wind up being sold as mass-produced jewellery and unremarkable decorative items in this city."

The owners of Raja Jewels and New York Jewellery Mart had pleaded guilty to counts of illegal trade in wildlife. They agreed to forfeit the ivory and donate a total of $45 000 to the US Wildlife Conservation Society.

Vance's office cited statistics provided by Traffic, a wildlife monitoring organization, that show 24 tons of elephant ivory had been seized around the world in 2011, the largest amount in two decades. The sale of ivory has been banned since 1989.

Elephant conservation groups say more than 8 500 elephant carcasses were found between 2002 and 2011 at 49 monitoring sites in 27 African countries. The groups said Thailand and China are the largest buyers of ivory.

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