Zambia hands down tough sentence to ivory dealer

Friday, September 8, 2006
Lusaka, Zambia
Zambia’s legal system this week handed down a stiff sentence of six-years hard labor to a Taiwanese national caught with 70kgs (155lbs) of illegal elephant ivory. The harsh sentence was applauded by conservation groups, including IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org), which campaign for the protection of elephants and a total ban on ivory trade.
Ting Cheng-lung, was arrested on 8 August 2006 at Ndola Airport in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia, while in possession of 13 pieces of raw ivory plus 106 pieces of carved ivory. The contraband ivory is estimated to be worth US$50,000.
 
IFAW wildlife experts have been watching the case, hopeful that a tough sentence would be handed down to send a strong signal to elephant poachers and illegal ivory dealers.
 
“Each year thousands of elephants are killed to pad the wallets of black market ivory dealers like Ting Cheng-lung,” said IFAW Director of Wildlife and Habitat Dr. Joth Singh. “We can not allow the future of the elephant species to be determined by those motivated by personal profit – and this week Zambia’s legal system agreed – sentencing Ting to a tough sentence of six years hard labor. We applaud the court’s actions in this case and hope that it dissuades others from trafficking in ivory and killing elephants.”
 
The news of Ting’s conviction come just a few months after the 5 July 2006 confiscation of 350 African elephant tusks by Taiwan, China customs officials – representing at least 175 dead elephants; and only weeks from the 2-6 October 2006 meeting of the U.N. Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) Standing Committee, at which the decision may be made to allow for 60 metric tons of ivory to be sold internationally.
 
Though the ivory trade was banned in 1989, underground trafficking of ivory has continued. Incidences of poaching and ivory seizures have increased noticeably since 2002, when CITES proposed to reopen the international ivory trade with the one-off sale of the 60 metric tons of stockpiled ivory from Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. 
 
IFAW believes that any legal sale in ivory creates a smokescreen for illegal trade, and therefore an increase in poaching. IFAW is calling for CITES to revoke the stockpile sale decision and to maintain a total ban on the trade of ivory.

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