Ivory poaching on the increase

Elephant poaching levels are the worst in a decade and recorded ivory seizures are at their highest levels since 1989, according to a report published recently by the United Nations-backed convention on endangered species.

“We need to enhance our collective efforts across range, transit and consumer states to reverse the current disturbing trends in elephant poaching and ivory smuggling,” the Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora , John Scanlon, said in a news release on the report.

In 2011 alone, there were 14 large-scale ivory seizures – a double-digit figure for the first time in 23 years, when records were first compiled. They totalled an estimated 24.3 tonnes of ivory, more than in any previous year.

The sources of information have shown a very close correspondence between trends in elephant poaching and trends in large-scale ivory seizures, detecting essentially the same patterns at different points in the illegal ivory trade chain, Cites noted. Large-scale ivory seizures – those involving more than 800 kilograms of ivory in a single transaction – typically indicate the participation of organised crime.

Most of the ivory smuggling containers leave Africa through Indian Ocean seaports on the continent’s eastern coastline, primarily from Kenya and Tanzania, with China and Thailand the two primary destinations for illegal ivory consignments from Africa, according to the seizure data.

Some African and Asian countries have made significant efforts to enhance enforcement, Cites noted. For example, China conducted earlier this year a major operation which resulted in the seizure of more than1,366 kilograms of ivory and the arrest of 13 suspects.

Cites said that the critical situation in Africa demonstrates the urgent need to implement the African Elephant Action Plan, which was created by all African elephant range States under the auspices of Cites in 2010. The plan envisages investing $100 million over three years into elephant conservation efforts.

Post published in: Environment

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