Africa and Asia = ivory supply and demand
2009 was a banner year for the confiscation of illegal ivory, with 14,000 articles made from the body parts of elephants seized – a rise of more than 2,000 pieces compared with 2007, according to an article in Sunday’s Observer. But this increase is not down to better law enforcement, but rather a growth in the grizzly trade spurned on by soaring ivory prices in East Asia, which have risen from ₤150 ($245/ €170) per kg in 2004 to a whopping ₤4,000 ($6,500/4,500€).
‘At the same time, scientists estimate that between 8% and 10% of Africa’s elephants are now being killed each year to meet the demand. The world’s largest land animal is again threatened with widespread slaughter.’
The issue is complicated: countries such as Tanzania have seen their elephant population almost triple in the past 20 years. Many poor farmers now consider elephants a nuisance and the Tanzanian government would like to see the sale of seized ivory legalized. Yet Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo have experienced more poaching in recent years and are for an extension of the ban on ivory.
According to wildlife trade monitoring network, Traffic:
‘The remarkable surge in 2009 reflects a series of large-scale ivory seizure events that suggest an increased involvement of organized crime syndicates in the trade, connecting African source countries with Asian end-use markets’
Exceptions on the ivory ban have sometimes been allowed. In 2008 a cache of 105,000 tons of ivory from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe was sold to Chinese and Japanese dealers over £15 million ($24.5m/ €17m). It is just this sort of activity which Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo believe increases the demand for ivory, thereby encouraging poaching.
by Graham Land