According to TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring group, during 2009 alone, 25 tons of illegal ivory–taken from an estimated 2,500 elephants–was intercepted and confiscated by international police agencies.
Illegal ivory is being smuggled to nearby states or sold to the Chinese workers who have become resident in surrounding areas under the infrastructure-for-minerals exchange system.
“The illegal ivory trade is not just about smugglers and poachers; there are far-reaching consequences to this and all wildlife crime. Law enforcement officers have been killed, people are threatened with violence, and corruption and the wider economic impact on a country are all linked to this type of criminality.”
-Peter Younger, manager of INTERPOL’s Operational Assistance, Services and Infrastructure Support (OASIS), an Africa wildlife crime program
“The entry of China into the legal trade is also a cause of concern for me. It is hard to believe that a country which in 2002 scored only 5.6 out of 100 points in the CITES (UN administered Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Elephant Trade Information Systems (ETIS) ranking — which ranks countries on how effectively they tackle illegal ivory — could have scored 63 points this year.”
CITES has allowed two ‘one off’ auctions of tusks from animals that had died from natural causes (in 1999 and 2008). Still,
“China has admitted losing track of 120 tons of ivory from the government’s official stockpiles in the past 12 years.”
Kenyan conservationist, Dr. Richard Leakey, the founding Chairman for WildlifeDirect.
Animal conservation has been an ongoing fight to be part of mainstream consciousness, accepted policy, political will to act. It catches fire for a while as we toy with their extinction, then complacency when we see numbers positive. A moment’s lapse on our part means massive blood lost on theirs.