Tag Archives: wildlife trade

Poachers Have Killed Half of the Elephants In Mozambique In Just 5 Years

A government survey showed that over the past five years, the number of elephants in Mozambique has dropped from 20,000 to 10,300 due to poaching.

That’s a 48% decline in just five years. And 95% of those elephant deaths occurred in remote northern Mozambique, which has the Niassa National Reserve, reducing the region’s population from 15,400 to 6,100.

The drastic decline is due to the illegal wildlife trade and a lack of governance. Many of the poachers came to Mozambique from Tanzania, where the market was bleak from its decimated elephant population.

Director of WCS in Mozambique, whose organization manages the Niassa Reserve, Alastair Nelson says:

“The major issue is one of governance. The north has always been a remote and poorly governed area, with an underlying level of corruption. Some district police and border guards are being paid off, some even rent out their own firearms.”

Photo by O.Taillon / CC BY-ND 2.0
Photo by O.Taillon / CC BY-ND 2.0

Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, has been slow to start fighting the poaching problem. Before June 2014, poachers were simply fined for illegal possession of a weapon. But after international pressure, the country adopted a new law criminalizing the killing of protected animals.

In May, Mozambique police completed the country’s biggest-ever search and acquisition of illegal wildlife products. They seized 1.3 tons of elephant ivory and rhino horn – the outcome of killing about 200 animals.

Sadly, an estimated 30,000 elephants in Africa are killed illegally for the ivory trade each year. There are around 470,000 wild elephants left in Africa, according to a survey by Elephants Without Borders. A century ago, there were several million.

Featured image by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo / CC BY 2.0

Thailand Destroyed Its Ivory This Year to Join in Fight Against Wildlife Crimes

Thailand destroyed more than two tons of ivory in August, sending a loud and clear message in the fight against wildlife trade.

The industrial crusher in Bangkok ground up elephant tusks, carved ivory and other trinkets – most of which came from elephants poached in Africa. Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha led the event, and was joined by government representatives, international diplomats and conservationists.

World Wildlife Fund’s Janpai Ongsiriwittaya, who played a major role in conducting an audit of the Thai ivory stockpile, says:

“Thailand’s ivory destruction is more than just a symbolic event since it follows a series of important steps that the country has taken to tackle illegal ivory trade in the past year. For too long Thailand has been exploited by wildlife criminals as both a gateway and marketplace for ivory poached in Africa and Asia. This event aligns the commitment of the Thai government and the will of the Thai people with the global priority of stopping the illegal ivory trade.”

Photo by Kate Miyamoto, USFWS, USFWS Mountain-Prairie / CC BY 2.0
Photo by Kate Miyamoto, USFWS, USFWS Mountain-Prairie / CC BY 2.0

The ivory destruction occurred after several important laws passed to combat the illegal ivory trade. Approximately 30,000 African elephants are killed each year for their ivory, which then makes its way to other countries. And for years, Thailand was home to the world’s largest unregulated ivory market. But after facing intense global pressure and potential trade sanctions under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the country is now cracking down on the issue.

This year, the Thai government passed several important laws and regulations on the trade, and implemented a National Ivory Action Plan. For it, all ivory had to be registered by April 21, which resulted in people reporting more than 220 tons of elephant ivory. In April alone, Thai Customs seized more than 7 tons of illegal African ivory. The government also declared that the African elephant is now a protected species in Thailand.

Ongsiriwittaya says:

“Considerable progress has been made this year but there will be challenges ahead with implementing these new regulations, clamping down on illegal traders and reducing demand.”

But Thailand continues to send messages to the world about its determination to put an end to ivory trafficking and wildlife crime. In July, Thailand co-sponsored a historic UN General Assembly resolution to address illegal wildlife trade. And the ivory destruction in August only reinforced its stance.

Featured image by Ivy Allen, USFWS, USFWS Mountain-Prairie / CC BY 2.0

U.S. and China Team Up to Fight Illegal Wildlife Trade With a Ban on Ivory

The two largest markets for ivory are working together to put an end to its illegal trade. The U.S. and China have agreed to enact almost a complete ban on the import and export of ivory to help minimize elephant poaching.

The ban covers “significant and timely restrictions on the import of ivory as hunting trophies” and unspecified “significant and timely steps to halt the domestic commercial trade of ivory.” It follows China’s decision in May to phase out the legal, domestic manufacture and sale of ivory products.

Photo by Ben Haeringer / CC BY-ND 2.0
Photo by Ben Haeringer / CC BY-ND 2.0

China is the largest market for poached ivory and the U.S. is estimated to be the second largest. Slashing the supply of ivory to the Chinese market is critical to decreasing the number of African elephant deaths due to poaching.

According to a March 2015 survey by WildAid, African Wildlife Foundation and Save The Elephants, support for this ivory trade ban is high. 95% of people surveyed in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou believed the government should impose the ivory ban. In addition, the survey showed that awareness about ivory poaching increased by 50% since 2012.

The White House said that the U.S. and China would cooperate with other nations in a complete effort to fight the wildlife trade.

Featured image by Diana Robinson / CC BY-ND 2.0