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Criminal gangs target ivory in museums

The damaged elephant skeleton at the Paris Natural History museums Credit: EBU

The attack on an elephant skeleton at the Paris Natural History Musuem is the latest in a series of thefts from people looking to cash in on the lucrative trade in ivory and rhino horn.

Rhino horn is worth £65,000 a kilo, which makes it more valuable than cocaine, heroin and gold.

In 2011 rare black rhino horn was stolen from Druzilla's Wild Life Park in Sussex.

In 2012 staff at the Powell-Cotton Museum at Quex Park in Birchington had to replace valuable rhino horns with fakes after they were hacked off the exhibits by the thieves.

Volunteers are currently helping to man 24 hour patrols of rhino enclosures at Port Lympne and Howletts Wildlife Parks after police received information that criminal gangs were hoping to poach the creatures.

Man 'tries to steal tusk' from Paris museum

The tusk on the historic skeleton was badly damaged in the attack Credit: EBU

A man is being questioned by police after he allegedly hacked the tusk off an historic elephant skeleton in the Natural History Museum in Paris.

The museum said that staff were initially alerted to the theft after they heard a chainsaw being used in one of the galleries early on Saturday morning.

Staff were alerted when they heard the noise of a chainsaw in one of their galleries Credit: EBU

Police arrested a man near the museum after he was spotted carrying the three-kilogram (seven-pound) tusk. A chainsaw was recovered from inside the gallery.

The popular skeleton was given to King Louis XIV of France in 1668 but the tusks were added at a later date.

The museum's guide book shows the completed skeleton. Credit: EBU

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Thailand's Prime Minister vows to ban its ivory trade

Thailand is playing host to an international summit on the protection of endangered species and its prime minister has vowed to work towards banning her country's trade in ivory.

Last year, as many as 32,000 elephants were slaughtered worldwide for their tusks and 668 rhinos were poached for their horns in South Africa.

The biggest market for smuggled ivory is China, which is also facing increased calls for government-run market in ivory to end.

ITV News' Angus Walker reports.

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Chinese official refuses to talk about ivory trade

At the start of a major conference in Bangkok on endangered species, the Thai Prime Minister vowed to ban the legal trade of ivory in her country.

More than half of the world's smuggled ivory is believed to end up in China and there are increased calls for its government-run legal trade to also end.

Angus Walker attempted to speak to the senior Chinese delegate about demands for a complete ban.

The worst elephant poaching incident in Kenya's history

In January, ITV News' Africa Correspondent Rohit Kachroo was the first UK broadcaster on the scene of Kenya's worst recorded ivory poaching in its history.

A family of 12 elephants at Tsavo National Park, one of the largest elephant sanctuaries in the world, were slaughtered and their tusks hacked off.

This report contains images of dead elephants:

Illegal ivory industry: UK central to the criminal trade

As Thailand bows to international pressure by vowing to bring an end to its legal internal ivory trade, here in the UK the criminal trade appears to be taking place right under the nose of the authorities.

Heathrow Airport is emerging as one of the fastest-growing transit points for ivory from Africa to the Far East. Our Special Correspondent Rageh Omaar has been investigating. You may find some of the images disturbing.

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