Scale and Frequency of Ivory Seizures Shows A Rising Threat to Elephants

More often than not, we are left with only anecdotal evidence; stories and accounts which once combined, can still give us great insight into what is happening in the global illegal ivory trade and measure the degree of threat faced by elephants.

Counting, measuring, recording and developing a comprehensive incident record of elephant poaching is nearly impossible. The quantities and distances involved render it a Herculean task.

More often than not, we are left with only anecdotal evidence; stories and accounts which once combined, can still give us great insight into what is happening in the global illegal ivory trade and measure the degree of threat faced by elephants.

What is clear is the threat to elephants is grave.

According to the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) report, there has been:

“a steadily increasing trend in levels of illicit ivory trade in 2004 onwards, with an exceptionally sharp upsurge in 2009….seizures of ivory reached record levels in 2009 and that these levels were largely sustained in 2010.”

As you can see from the incident data below, 2011 is already shaping up to be a deadly year with 4759 elephant tusks seized in these major seizures.

On April 1st Thai officials discovered 247 tusks hidden in a shipment from Kenya; although it is still not clear what region the ivory originated from.

Nearly 700 tusks recently seized in Malaysia (Photo credit: Star Publications (M) Berhad)

Two weeks later Vietnamese officials seized 122 elephant tusks a day after Chinese custom officials uncovered 707 elephant tusks during a routine inspection.

In early May Kenyan authorities uncovered 84 elephant tusks at Nairobi airport.

In June a further 22 elephants were killed in the Congo Basin bringing the known total there to at least 77 elephants killed for their ivory in 2011.

On July 8th Malaysian officials seized 405 elephant tusks.

On July 26th US Fish and Wildlife Officers made their biggest-ever bust in Philadelphia of over 2000 pounds of ivory.

An August 12th report highlighted a 50% increase in the number of ivory items on sale in Guagzhou, China from the period of 2004-2011, most of which lacked any proper CITES identification.

Only one week later, a China-bound shipment from Tanzaniawas seized in Malaysiawith 664 elephant tusks.

1041 elephant tusks bound for Malaysia were seized on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar on August 23rd.

The following week officials in Hong Kong seized 794 African elephant tusks on a shipment from Malaysia. That same week officials in Malaysia seized 695 elephant tusks that had come from Tanzania and were bound for China.

And more elephants in Samburu Park have been poached in the past 2.5 years than in the previous 11 years.

Individually these seizures illustrate a thriving illegal trade in ivory. Collectively they represent a threat to the very survival of elephants in parts of Africa and Asia.

-- AH

For more information on the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to save animals in crisis around the world, visit http://ifaw.org

Comments: 2

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

This massive escalation in the trade of ivory and other "body parts" of endangered species reveals a new and more sinister trend...a new player if you will on the scene...A DEMONIC SOUL WITH WEALTH AND POWER WHO BUYS AND COLLECTS FOR INVESTMENT ONLY...THE COMMODITIZATION OF IVORY IS THE GREATEST THREAT TO THE SURVIVAL OF ALL ELEPHANTS TODAY !!! It is no accident that the term "white gold' is used to describe elephant ivory by these dangerous purveyors of death. These criminals warehouse and wait...they could care less if it were carved or not...and certainly only concerned with profit and nothing else...LET'S GET THEM NOW...I commend authorities throughout the world for the recent airport seizures...but let these shipments go further down the line, while under investigation, and let's GET THE BIG GUYS...NOT JUST THE MULES..AND PUT THEM AWAY FOR LIFE !!!

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

S SOOOO SAD , SO SAD , WHEN THIS EVER GOING TO END ????

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Experts

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Cynthia Moss, IFAW Elephant Expert
IFAW Elephant Expert
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Program Director, Elephants Regional Director, South Africa
Program Director, Elephants, Regional Director, South Africa
Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia