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Cameroon authorities arrested four ivory smugglers attempting to transport nearly 120 elephant tusks through the country’s south, officials said Friday.

The group had trafficked nearly 675 kilograms (1,500 pounds) of the illicit cargo from neighboring Gabon, which is home to more than half of Africa’s remaining forest elephants.

They hid their haul in the bottom of a van with a false compartment, state television reported.

It was the biggest ivory seizure in the West African nation for five years, customs officer Jean-Claude Ekoube told AFP.

Ivory trafficking is fueled by strong demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks are used in traditional medicine.

It is also coveted for its ability to be fashioned into items like combs, pendants and other exotic jewelry.

The global trade in elephant ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after the population of the African animals dropped from millions in the mid-20th century to about 600,000 by the end of that decade.



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