KOTA KINABALU: Indonesian Customs officials have seized 10 elephant tusks that were being smuggled by an estate worker into Kalimantan.
The 54-year-old Indonesian labourer was arrested by the Indonesian authorities when they spotted the tusks inside a plastic barrel upon scanning it with an X-ray machine on Tuesday (July 9), according to a news report from Kalimantan.
The report stated that the suspect, who had been working for the last 32 years in Sabah's Lahad Datu district, was detained shortly upon arrival by ferry at Nunukan from Tawau.
The news report, quoting a Nunukan official Subhan, said the suspect told them he was taking the tusks back to his home village in Nusa Tenggra Timur province to be used as dowry.
The suspect told officials he paid RM9,400 for the tusks.
"The ivory is not for sale (or trafficking) but was mainly as dowry purposes in a marriage.
"However, it is illegal under the law even if it is being used for customary purposes and not trafficking," the office was quoted by the media as saying.
The officials also arrested a 40-year-old travel agent who helped the suspect to bring in the elephant tusks. The agent was not being treated as a suspect but a witness in the case.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said they were in communication with Indonesian officials in Kalimantan but declined to comment further.