A man smuggling 33 kilos of elephant tusks was caught at the Prague international airport on Tuesday, the Czech customs authority and the Czech environmental inspectorate told CTK Friday.
The smuggler was heading to Asia where the tusks could be sold for up to $2500 per kilogramme on the black market, or for over $80,000.
The elephant tusks were revealed during the regular X-ray check of the luggage, customs spokeswoman Sarka Miskovska said.
The tusks were cut to pieces and the customs found 18 pieces in several suitcases. The smuggler is a young man from Vietnam who was flying to his homeland via Russia.
The tusks were probably cut from at least three African elephants who are listed among the most strictly protested species. The man may be punished with up to eight years in prison if the smuggling is proved to him, the environmental inspectorate spokeswoman Simona Cigankova said.
She said the price of ivory is high. A poacher usually gets only $80 to $100 per kilo of ivory in Africa, but the final price at the black market in Asia is $2000 to $2500 per kilo, she added.
Cigankova said more and more illegal ivory has been recently appearing in the Czech Republic. It is resold here or exported to Asia.
A month ago, the customs officers revealed two smuggled horns of the strictly protected white rhinoceros at Prague's Vaclav Havel Airport. The horns would be worth some $360,000 on the black market. This consignment was heading to Vietnam, too.