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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April, 2005, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
Ethiopia police in big ivory raid
Police Inspector Tesfaye Eshete with stuffed animals and ivory carvings
Inspector Tesfaye said this was the first part of a big crackdown
Ethiopian police have seized some 500kg of illegal ivory and other wild animal parts in a major operation against antique shops in the capital, they say.

As well as carved elephant tusks, stuffed lions, tigers and cheetahs were found, along with rhino teeth.

An Ethiopian wildlife official said the seizure, worth some $117,000, was one of the biggest in Ethiopia's history.

Mohammed Abdi also said Ethiopia was among the world's 10 worst offenders in the illegal trade in animal parts.

He said poachers had devastated Ethiopia's elephant population - from 10,000 in 1985 to just 800.

Jail

The raids were carried out in January but the police said they had only just finished cataloguing the seized items.

More than 66 owners of Addis Ababa antique shops were arrested and face a $550 fine and up to two years in jail.

Officials say the raid was the first in a new crackdown on the trade.

"In the past we have had little information about which items were legal or illegal, so it has meant traders operated with impunity," said Police Inspector Tesfaye Eshete.

Last month, an international wildlife expert said neighbouring Sudan was at the centre of a huge trade in ivory that arrived from east and central Africa on its way to Asia.


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