Kenya Losing More Elephants Than Reported
Tanzania was the leading source of illegal ivory in the East African region last year, a new report by Interpol has shown. By comparison, Kenya faced much lower rates of poaching in 2013 partly due to extensive law enforcement and operations by the government (however, a new census this week shows that hundreds of elephants are unaccounted for in just one national park).
At the same time, the port of Mombasa accounted for the largest volume of seizures in Africa with a total of over 10 tons of illegal ivory intercepted between January and October 2013. According to the report which was released Wednesday, approximately 30 elephants are killed in Tanzania daily amounting to more than 10,000 jumbos annually.
“A significant portion of ivory illicitly trafficked to international markets especially in Asia is derived from elephant populations in Tanzania,” said the report.
An estimated 22,000 elephants were killed illegally continent wide in 2012 representing a slight reduction from the estimated 25,000 jumbos poached in 2011. (Although some report that up to 35,000 elephants are killed illegally each year.)
About 35,000 – 40,000 Elephants Killed Last Year
Tanzania’s elephant population has continued to plummet in recent years and in Selous Game reserve, which boasted the world’s second-largest elephant population at 70,000 elephants in 2006. The numbers have fallen to an estimated 39,000 elephants in 2009 and currently stand at 13,084 elephants.
“Moreover, the elephant population in Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park has declined by 44 percent since 2006 and now numbers approximately 20,090,” the reports further adds.
The report which was launched at the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi by Mr. David Higgins of Environmental Crime programme also revealed that that in 2013, global large-scale ivory seizures reached record levels and many of these seizures occurred in East Africa or in transit to Asia with an East African origin.
“Eighteen large-scale seizures (of over 500 kilogrammes) accounted for 41.6 tonnes of illicit ivory in 2013, these seizures represents increases over previous years mirroring heightened rates of elephant poaching throughout Africa,” the Interpol reports adds.
While poaching in Kenya has reduced due to more pressure by security agents on poachers, the country is being used as a transit route with the port of Mombasa becoming a favourite for poachers. Interpol says Uganda though a landlocked country is also becoming a transit route for illegal ivory mostly from Tanzania.
“Of particular interest is the use of Uganda, a landlocked country as a transit point for Tanzanian ivory which is packaged in shipping containers and transported to the port of Mombasa in Kenya for onward international transport,” the report reveals.
Stop The Illegal Wildlife Trade
The majority of intercepted ivory has occurred in maritime ports with the loot hidden in shipment containers usually concealed by other lawful goods. Mr Higgins called for a new approach in combating poaching and illegal animal trophies trade saying the same was linked to fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.
“We need to be more innovative, we need to cooperate to win this war,” he said while flanked by the Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya Mr David Angell.
On his part, Mr Angell said, “we must take urgent and decisive action to tackle the illegal wildlife trade and address the current poaching crisis.”
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