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Uganda holds 750 ivory pieces, arresting 2 Vietnamese



KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) – The Ugandan authorities have confiscated 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of bunches of weight imported from neighboring South Sudan, the revenue agency on Thursday, one of the largest wildlife smuggling cases in East Africa.

Two Vietnamese citizens have been arrested for smuggling, which was hidden inside pieces of wood carried by three cargo containers, and reported by the Ugandan revenue authority.

Elephants and fungus weights were most likely collected in the neighboring city of Congo. Smuggling was discovered with the help of a scanner.

Confiscation proves that Uganda is "still an important transit point for illegal wildlife", says Belgian researcher Kristof Titeca, who recently studied the role of individual traders in ivory trade.

African fungal species are under increasing pressure, as in some Asian countries their weights are used in traditional medicine.

African elephants are threatened by the demand for ivory products in China and other Asian countries. In Africa in the 1970s there were 1.3 million elephants, but today there are less than 500,000.

The Ugandan elephant population has grown to more than 5,000 in recent years, but animals still face sporadic milling, sometimes with corrupt wildlife.

Experts warn that the elephant population may fall if the ivory trade is not interrupted.

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