Thousands of elephants still killed for ivory

时间:2019-03-02 03:19:00166网络整理admin

By Fred Pearce About 4000 elephants are being killed illegally each year to feed worldwide demand for ivory, say two new studies published ahead of a major international meeting in October. The studies also report a “surprise result”. For the first time, the biggest markets for ivory are in Africa rather than Asia. And, embarrassingly for Thailand, the country hosting the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting, the Thai authorities are singled out for lax controls on international ivory smuggling. Once, most African ivory was shipped wholesale to Hong Kong, Japan and the Gulf states for carving into trinkets. But now much of the manufacturing is done in African countries, in small markets and souks, say the studies released on Friday. “These domestic markets – in Nigeria, Sudan and elsewhere – are driving the poaching of thousands of elephants each year,” says Susan Lieberman of the World Wildlife Fund conservation group, which helped finance the studies. The two reports – from two CITES agencies known as the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) and Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) – are the first systematic attempts to track both the supply and demand side of the ivory trade. They find that the amount of ivory seized by Customs officers has been rising slightly since 1995. But the trend is uncertain. Data for 2003 show the lowest level of seizures since records began, in 1989. But that follows record seizures in 2002. And the records are very incomplete. While 75 countries have submitted data, the ETIS report complains that many states known to be pivotal to the illegal trade “either never experience any elephant product seizures, or are totally failing to report them”. Besides a host of African countries, it also singles out known purchasing countries – like Italy, Singapore and Taiwan – for criticism. Hotspots for poaching identified in the MIKE report include eastern Congo, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, northern Gabon and southern Chad. But Nigeria, which has a vast domestic market in ivory, is the worst hotspot. It is accused of regular and increasing involvement in the illicit ivory trade, high levels of corruption and “the lowest level of law enforcement effort of any country assessed”. China is also singled out as “the main ivory manufacturing centre for all Asia,