The Spanish Civil Guard has seized 74 elephant tusks from a private property in Colmenar de Oreja, in the Madrid region.
The owner was trying to legalize the 744 kilograms of ivory using a fake hunting license, with the goal of selling it for around €200,000, the law enforcement agency said.
Mozambique authorities confirmed that the license only allowed the hunting of one elephant, not 37
The tusks were taken from African bush elephants, an endangered species. Trade in the animal’s parts is prohibited, with a very few exceptions.
The suspect was attempting to legalize the stockpile using a hunting license issued by the Republic of Mozambique in 1970.
The confiscation was conducted by the Civil Guard’s nature protection service, SEPRONA, in partnership with the Spanish government agency in charge of implementing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
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The probe began in March, when this agency requested assistance from the Civil Guard in connection with the case. Law enforcement sources said that the tusks were collected and transported to their current location years ago, although the exact date has not yet been determined.
Their owner wanted to legalize them after apparently receiving them as part of an inheritance.
Spanish investigators contacted authorities in Mozambique, who confirmed that a license had been issued to the bearer’s name in 1970, but that this document only authorized the hunting of one elephant, not 37 as the papers now indicated.
In mid-April, Civil Guard officers and a CITES inspector showed up at the suspect’s home and seized the pile of tusks, whose market value would have been around €200,000.
English version by Susana Urra.