African ivory flows to Asia

2010-03-16 14:51
Doha - A booming black market in African ivory linked to Asian crime syndicates may scupper efforts by Zambia and Tanzania to hold a one-off sale of tusks, experts and delegates at a UN wildlife trade meeting say.

At its last gathering in 2007, the UN-backed Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted a nine-year moratorium on exports of African ivory.

The ban went into effect in 2008, after South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe carried out a one-time sale to Japan and China of stockpiled ivory.

But Zambia and Tanzania are now asking the 175-nation body, meeting in the Qatari capital Doha until March 25, for permission to unload their own ivory stocks, also taken legally from animals that died naturally or were culled.

The two countries require a two-thirds majority for their bids to be approved.

A coalition of 23 elephant-range nations not only opposes the measure, but wants to extend the ban on ivory sales to 20 years.

"The 2007 moratorium was meant to ensure there would be no markets (for ivory) in neighbouring countries. At first, it created panic among the poachers," said Cosma Wilungula Balongelwa, a delegate from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Commando-style poachers

But they regrouped and now operate with military force and tactics, he told AFP.

"They fire on herds with rocket launchers. In Salonga Park - at 36 000 square kilometres the largest in Africa - our 140 rangers are completely overwhelmed."

In less than two months, hundreds of elephants in the DRC have been slaughtered by commando-style poachers, he said.

"These are not amateurs. A local network would never be able to handle this volume of contraband."

The upsurge in poaching has caused experts to question the wisdom of allowing exceptional sales of state-held ivory.

In 2007, CITES enforcement officials argued that the moratorium combined with the one-off sale, which raised $15.4m earmarked for conservation, would depress the price of illegal ivory and thus discourage poaching.

Instead, the tally of elephants killed by poachers has soared, especially in central Africa.

In Kenya, the number has jumped from 47 in 2007, to 145 in 2008, to 234 last years.

And in Chad, one of the northern-most elephant-range nations, the number of tuskers in the wild has plummeted from 3 885 in 2005 to 617 at the end of 2009, according to government figures.

In all these countries, trafficking has taken on military dimensions, said Celine Sissler-Bienvenu, an expert on illegal ivory trade at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Crime syndicates

"In December, 80 poachers entered the Central African Republic from Sudan and killed 36 elephants. Then they moved into the DRC and Cameroon. They had heavy arms and were divided into three units - shooters, cutters and transporters," she said.

Powerful acids melted the elephants' flesh so that tusks could be extracted quickly.

Evidence also points to the "increasing role of Asian-run crime syndicates in moving large volumes of ivory from Africa to Asia," said Tom Milliken, who monitors illegal trade in east and southern Africa for green group TRAFFIC.

"At home, China claims to have a tightly controlled regime for trading in ivory, and imposes the death penalty for large-scale infringements. Chinese nationals living in Africa seem oblivious to this," he said.

Several African delegates, asking not to be named, also blamed mafia-like networks linked to buyers in China.

A study published in Science last week recommended that the Zambian and Tanzanian proposals be voted down until the impact of ivory sales is better understood.

"The immediate fear is that ... allowing one-off sales in any African nation will stimulate the market for illegal ivory everywhere, particularly in those countries where law enforcement is inadequate," said one of the co-authors, Rene Beyers, a researcher at the University of British Colombia.

Zambia holds 21 tonnes and Tanzania 89 tonnes of legally taken ivory stocks.

But DNA analysis of contraband seized in Asia has indicated both countries are also among the most significant source of illegal ivory, according to the paper.

Read more on:    zambia  |  tanzania
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!
Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Hermanus

Houses R 2 680 000

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Paarl

Houses R 2 690 000

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

At last you are able to see the light. You are able to break through obstacles in an innovative and original way. Visualisation is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.