A man from Watford has been jailed for attempting to sell elephant tusks and rhino horns on Instagram.

Abbas Allawi, 52, was imprisoned for 14 months for offences relating to the illegal purchase and sale of parts of endangered species.

He marketed the items for "cash only" sale on Instagram at £60,000 per kg.

Police said the jailing showed officers were committed to ending the illegal ivory trade, which has been blamed for bringing some species of elephants and rhinos dangerously close to extinction.

Allawi's home in Gisburne Way was raided by officers from the Met Police's Wildlife Crime Unit on 19 October last year.

Police dogs trained to sniff out the scent of rhino horns helped uncover two elephant tusks, four hippopotamus teeth and three rhino horns.

Police had discovered Allawi, originally from Iraq, had offered the illegal items for sale.

He was arrested and charged before being sentenced at Harrow Crown Court.

Her Honour Judge Dean commended the officers for their work on the case.

DC Sarah Bailey, of the Metropolitan Police's Wildlife Crime Unit, said: "This case shows that laws are in place to protect endangered species. I would urge anyone who sees specimens from protected wildlife for sale to contact police.

"We are committed to ensuring that anyone in London who is trading illegally in endangered animal parts is stopped."

Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Peter Nugent added: "Abbas Allawi stood to make significant sums trading in ivory and tusks despite knowing it was illegal.

"He tried to claim ignorance of the law but the prosecution case was able to show through his messages to potential buyers that he knew full well he was trading in what he described as 'banned things'.

"If you break laws controlling the sale of items linked to endangered species the CPS will work with the police to present a strong case in court, to make sure offenders face the consequences of their crimes."

The Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997 makes the sale of endangered species and their parts in the UK, including unworked rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory, an offence.

Last month, the government announced new plans to ban the sale and export of almost all ivory.

The surprise move, which had been removed from the Conservative Party's 2017 election manifesto, followed pressure from activists who have long sought to put an end to the UK's role as the world's biggest exporter of legal ivory carvings and antiques.

This includes well-known campaigners such as Prince William, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Hawking and former Tory leader William Hague.

About 20,000 elephants are killed every year to feed the ivory trade, leaving conservationists to fear some species could go extinct.

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