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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Poaching Could Drive African Elephant to Extinction and Fan Political Instability

Jane Goodall, one of the world's greatest conservationists, has made an impassioned plea for a worldwide ban on the sale of ivory to prevent the extinction of the African elephant.
Her call follows the seizure in Malaysia last week of 24 tonnes of illegal ivory and a report by conservationists warning that the illegal ivory trade now threatens governments as rebel groups use the sale of tusks to fund their wars.
"According to the world’s foremost primatologist, Jane Goodall, Tanzania has lost half its elephants in the last three years. Peter Msigwa, a Tanzanian MP, said last week that poaching was "out of control" with an average of 30 elephants being slaughtered for their ivory every day.
Last year Tanzanian police seized more than 1,000 elephant tusks hidden in sacks of dried fish at Zanzibar port. Conservationists blamed the Tanzanian authorities for not controlling ivory poaching and trafficking.
According to World Conservation Society Director Paul Elkan, Poaching in some countries is said to be out of control. In southern Sudan the elephant population, estimated at 130,000 in 1986, has crashed to 5,000
A recent report submitted to the UN by WWF International warned that the illegal ivory trade threatened political stability in Africa as rebel groups used the sale of ivory to fund their wars. Ugandan military planes have been seen over the Democratic Republic of the Congo shooting elephants from the air. Armed militias are now shooting the elephants.
China's growing presence in Africa has been blamed for an unprecedented surge in poaching. The discovery last week by Malaysian customs of 1,500 tusks hidden in secret chambers in 10 containers supposedly carrying wooden floor tiles was the largest illegal ivory haul ever. The containers were reportedly on their way to China via Spain from Togo, a popular destination for armed gangs to smuggle ivory.

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