- Despite a global ban on commercialisation of ivory, elephant poaching continues to be on the rise, mainly because of the high demand. But a new study has found that Asian-run organized crime syndicates based in Africa are behind the increase in illegal trade in elephant ivory.
TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network conducted the study. Its study report was an analysis of almost 12,400 ivory seizure cases from 82 countries recorded since 1989 in the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), the world’s largest database of elephant product seizure records.
Three African countries - Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon and Nigeria – have been identified as nations most heavily implicated sources of illegal ivory trade. Ethiopia where domestic ivory market has effectively clamped down is seen as an exception.
“Central Africa is currently haemorrhaging ivory and these three countries are major conduits for trafficking illicit ivory from the region to international markets, particularly in Asia,” the principal author of the study and Director of TRAFFIC Africa Programme, sounded in a statement.
On average, 92 cases of ivory seizures occur a month. But seizures have increased in size in recent years.
The study discovers that markets in China have created a high demand for illicit ivory, which arrives either directly or through ports such as Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, and Philippines. These countries account for 62 percent of the ivory recovered in the 49 largest seizure cases recorded by ETIS.
“This demonstrates greater sophistication, organization and finance behind the illegal movement of ever larger volumes of ivory from Africa to Asia,” Crawford Allan, Director of TRAFFIC North America, charges.
“China needs to reach out to the growing Chinese communities in Africa with a clear message that involvement in illegal ivory trade will not be tolerated.”
There has been significant improvement in law enforcement efforts and policing of local markets in mainland China, but ETIS records show that Chinese citizens have been arrested, detained or absconded in at least 126 significant ivory seizure cases in 22 African elephant range states.
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