BANGKOK - Officials in Thailand say they seized 315 kilograms (695 pounds) of African elephant tusks worth an estimated $800,000 at Bangkok's international airport.
Kulit Sombatsiri, director-general of the Thai Customs Department, said Tuesday that the haul of 87 ivory tusks was found March 27 in a dozen barrels sent from Mozambique on a Kenya Airways flight. A routine X-ray at Suvarnabhumi International Airport detected the contraband.
Kulit said a Kenyan man was due to pick up the parcels, but is believed to have fled the country after learning they were seized.
Kulit told reporters that Thai authorities alerted Kenyan officials, who discovered 561 kilograms (1,237 pounds) of ivory tusks waiting to be shipped to the same man.
He said it was the fifth seizure of elephant tusks this year in Thailand, which a number of United Nations reports have identified as one of the prime end user countries for ivory.
The global regulator in international trade in endangered species, CITES, put Thailand on a watch list of eight countries a few years ago. This required it to formulate an action plan to fight against the illegal ivory trade through legislation and enforcement or face the possibility of trade sanctions.