Saturday, 4 October 2014


By Israel Bionyi

The Illegal Trade in Ivory and Rhino Horn TRAFFIC report for 2014 recommends sophisticated technologies and law enforcement techniques in African sea and airports to fight against poaching and Illegal Traffic.

Lagos International sea port, the largest sea port in West and Central Africa one of the different port of Transit for rhino horn and Ivory
 Despite all the heavy trade band pressure sounded on some Asian Countries, the trade in Ivory and Rhino horn still remains very fluid. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora(CITES) announced in July 2014 serious trade sanctions on Thailand and Bangkok, if they don’t regularize their Ivory sector which sparks a lot of poachers.

TRAFFIC say it has since January 2014 recorded 18,747 Ivory seizure cases and 2,083 non Ivory elephant products and most of the Traffic is done via the sea and at the airports at time. With the Container shipping business representing the greatest  menace for the fight against this trade with less than 5% the ports applying the CITES law enforcement action for all containers entering and leaving the ports. In August 2013, The Guardian UK reported China seized a shipment of illegal ivory, rhino horns and leopard skins worth $5.3m (£3.4m) from Nigeria. They media adds “authorities at Hong Kong's port confiscated 1,120 ivory tusks, 13 rhino horns and five leopard skins weighing a total of 2,266 kilograms (4,997 pounds)”

Rhino horns, Ivory and Leopard skins Seized in from a Nigerian Container at the Port of Hong Kong in August 2013. Photograph: Alex Hofford/EPA
Tracing the routes of this illegal trade,  TRAFFIC points out, from 2000 through 2008 there have been significant export activity spring from Atlantic Ocean seaports in Central and West Africa, particularly Douala (Cameroon), Lagos (Nigeria) and Accra (Ghana), and from Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo) to Belgium by air. These sea and airports are used because they lack expensive technical equipment such as cargo scanner machines that can scan containers, dogs’ sniffers system and sophisticated Xrays.

Even though optimistic about the African the Future of African port systems, The Managing Director of the Douala Port Authority; JosuĂ© Youmba admits the Douala port needs to step up.  In a release published last week on the Douala Port Authority’s website, he said “Formerly, government was in charge of all port operations. But since the 1999 port reforms the management of some of these port operations were privatized. Unfortunately some of the private companies managing some of the activities have not been investing to match their equipments with the evolution of the volume of traffic at the port.”

“Movements of ivory within Africa involved a great number of countries, and considerable trafficking between Sudan and Egypt, a major unregulated ivory market within Africa that is far removed from any elephant populations, was also evident. On Africa’s east coast, Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique also emerge in this period as exporters of ivory from the African continent. South Africa, however, is the most prominent country owing to one exceptional 7.1 tonne movement of ivory from Malawi through the port of Durban to Singapore, and then reportedly for onward shipment to Japan” says Tom Milliken, TRAFFIC scientist.He adds that China has replaced Japan as World’s Number one in the trade, the highest end market

The Routes of Traffic in Ivory and Rhino Horn from Africa to other parts of the World Credit, TRAFFIC

.“There have been years without any real action on the ground when it comes to controlling the illegal ivory market,” said Oeystein Stoerkersen, chairman of CITES’s governing body during the CITES conference in Geneva of July 2014. His organization has set Thailand an August 2015 deadline to respect regulations or Face severe sanctions.

WWF leaked this year that Current Thai law allows ivory from domesticated Thai elephants to be sold, making it simple to dry-clean poached African ivory. WWF analyst, Colman O’Criodain who was also participant at the CITES Summit in Geneva said “Thailand’s market is fuelling the illegal assault on African elephants,”

The latest traffic report for 2014 released last month say 72% of Central Africa’s Elephant population has been wiped over the last 12 years. And the Tanzanian Selous Game Reserve has lost 57,000 from the 70,000 animals that were left in 2007, 68.6% in 7 years time. This represents an enormous loss for Africa whose Rhino and elephant population continue to shrink. The report also identifies the trade estimated to USD 5 - 20 billion per year.

TRAFFIC also demands more judicial actions to be taken on those who are apprehended doing this trade. It decries only 9 of the 78 cases registered since 2009 by the TRAFFIC's Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) have been trialed.

But not all hopes are gone. There is good news for African governments who needs to deploy massive financial and human efforts to fight this Illegal trade. Since June 2014, UNEP has identified High-tech equipments, cheap and sustainable methods that can counter poaching efforts without requiring armies of rangers or risking lives. They include: acoustic traps, mobile technology, mikrokopters, radio frequency identification tags, encrypted data digital networks, camera traps, DNA testing, radio collars, metal scanners, and satellite imagery. Well elaborated on UNEP's Website.

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