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Uganda seizes 750 pieces of ivory, arrests 2 Vietnamese



Ugandan authorities detained 750 ivory and thousands of Pangolian dragonflies that were smuggled from neighboring southern Sudan, the revenue agency reported on Thursday in one of the largest wildlife seizures in the East African country.

Two Vietnamese nationals are in custody over smuggling, which was hidden inside the pieces of wood that are transported by three freight containers, the UGand's revenue office said.

Elephant tusks and pangolin weights are likely to have gathered in the neighboring Congo, the authority said. Counterband was detected using a scanner.

The upsurge proves that Uganda "is still the main transit point for illegal wildlife," said Kristof Titeca, a Belgian researcher who recently investigated the role of individual vendors dealing with ivory.

The African Pangolin species is under increasing pressure from poachers because their weights are used in traditional medicine in some Asian countries.

African elephants are threatened by demand for ivory products in China and other Asian countries. Africa had 1.3 million elephants in 1970, but today it has less than 500,000.

The Ugandan elephant population has grown to more than 5,000 in recent years, but the animals are still struggling with sporadic poaching, sometimes with the help of corrupt wildlife officials.

Experts warn that the elephant population could fall unless an ivory trade is halted.

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