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4.5 tonnes of ivory seized in huge Interpol operation

Lyon: A huge international police operation has seized 4.5 tonnes of elephant and rhino tusks, leading to 376 arrests, Interpol said today.

Operation Worthy II mobilised police forces in 11 countries from January until October: Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, the international police organisation said in a statement.

The operation saw 25 trafficking groups disbanded, while thousands of illegal wildlife products were seized including more than 2,000 pangolin scales and 173 live tortoises.

Several weapons were also confiscated during the operation, which led police to Thailand and Singapore, where several tonnes of ivory were discovered.

Tusks are prized for decoration as talismans and for use in traditional medicine across parts of Asia, with China a major market for such products.