Vientiane (Vientiane Times) – More than 73 kilograms of ivory products were confiscated from a souvenir shop in Luang Prabang province recently and the foreign owner detained for suspected trading in elephant ivory.
The Forest Inspection Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, in collaboration with the Lao Wildlife Enforcement Network (Lao-WEN) and local authorities raided the shop and confiscated more than 3,400 ivory items weighing 73.8 kilograms. The ivory products were hidden in secret drawers under the shop’s counters.
Also seized were the horns of wild animals including deer antlers, which are in strong demand by mostly foreign tourists.
Deputy Director General of the Forest Inspection Department, Mr Thongphanh Ratanalangsy, told Vientiane Times yesterday the confiscated ivory would be kept as evidence and the shop owner detained for questioning.
The raid was conducted by the Forest Inspection Department in cooperation with Lao-WEN, and the Luang Prabang provincial Office of Forest Inspection (POFI) in response to information supplied by the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) Indicator, World Justice Commission (WJC), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The investigation followed reports of suspected illegal trading at the shop.
The Forest Inspection Department and POFI are investigating the suspects associated with the shop to prepare the case for prosecution.
Trafficking, trading, importing and exporting prohibited forms of wildlife is illegal under Lao law.
Authorities have previously uncovered many cases of wildlife trading especially in local markets across the country with animal carcasses seized and live fauna rehabilitated before being released. Vendors engaged in the illegal trade were reprimanded, Mr Thongphanh added.
In May, the prime minister issued Executive Order No. 5 to strengthen the management and inspection of prohibited wild fauna and flora.
This includes species listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of wild fauna and flora and implementing the National Ivory Action Plan to which Laos is a state party.
Anyone with information about illegal wildlife trading is urged to call authorities on 021 216 508.