Thai authorities today said they believed 148 kilograms of African elephant ivory that they seized was destined for China, where the biggest demand for ivory comes from, and that the same criminal network is behind the illegal trade.
The ivory is worth around $648,000 and was intercepted at a Bangkok airport.
The ivory haul originating from Nigeria, consisting of three large tusks and 31 tusk fragments, was seized last Friday after the cargo was flagged by officials earlier December 20.
Thai authorities seized over 500 pieces of ivory in six separate cases last year.
Somkiat Soontornpittakkool, an official from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, said that the large size of the seized tusks and its discolored state indicate that they were taken from large African elephants, which remain scarce in the wild, and have been kept in storage for a long period of time.
Poachers have killed tens of thousands of African elephants for their tusks to meet demand for ivory in Asia, putting the species at great risk.
Thailand became a major transit hub and destination for smuggled tusks, which are often carved into tourist trinkets and ornaments.