Two individuals planning to travel to Qatar were arrested in Mozambique over the weekend with 230 pounds of elephant tusks, officials in the African country reportedly announced yesterday.
Bloomberg cited a police spokesperson as saying the suspects are Chinese nationals and that investigators are now looking into whether an ivory smuggling ring is operating through Doha.
The report did not mention the suspects’ final destination, although much of the ivory that’s illegally harvested in Africa finds its way to east Asia, and China in particular.
Qatar recorded “between one and five” ivory seizures between 2006 and 2011, according to a report on trafficking prepared for a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
In reports to the organization, Qatar said it did not initiate any criminal prosecutions, levy fines or take any other court actions related to violations under CITES during that time period.
There have also been reports of attempts to smuggle illegal animal products through Qatar that were foiled before the shipments made it to the Gulf, such as five rhino horns seized in Kenya in 2013 from a passenger destined for Hong Kong.
That same year, Qatar and the UAE were flagged by CITES alongside several other countries as being an “emerging concern” because they could potentially become a key transit stop for large consignments of illicit ivory.
Speaking to Doha News, Richard Thomas, global communications coordinator for Traffic, a UK-based wildlife trade monitoring network, said: