African Elephants at Risk, Record Ivory Seizures

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - A Lot More compared to 20,000 African elephants were killed pertaining to their ivory inside 2013, driven by demand within China along with Thailand, and some nearby populations encounter an instantaneous threat involving extinction, a U.N.-linked wildlife conservation agency stated upon Friday.

Criminal gangs and rebel militias hunt dwindling herds with regard to tusks that fetch many thousands of us dollars per kilo, the Convention about International Trade in Endangered Species said.

"Today we're confronting a predicament associated with industrial-scale poaching and also smuggling, the particular involvement associated with organized transnational criminal organizations, the actual involvement regarding rebel militia," CITES secretary-general John Scanlon informed a briefing.

Fighters in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) had been sanctioned from the security Council this year regarding illegal hunting and ivory trade, specifically in central Africa, he said.

The 2013 estimated figure is actually less than the peak associated with 25,000 elephants poached throughout 2011. However it was the third straight year that will a lot more than 20,000 were killed illegally about the continent which includes an estimated 500,000 elephants left, according to CITES which usually monitors 51 sites, including national parks.

"It (poaching) is actually leveling off, however with a degree which is far as well high. the quantity of elephants that are killed is far exceeding the actual number of elephants becoming born," Scanlon said.

Large seizures associated with smuggled ivory within Africa, those over 500 kilos, rose inside 2013, for the first time exceeding those who function in Asia, based on CITES. Its 1975 pact to ban as well as restrict trade in endangered species continues to be ratified by simply 180 countries.

A record 40,000 kilos had been confiscated last year, already exceeded by an estimated 55,000 kilos seized this year, it said.

This had been credited to higher enforcement specifically in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, which usually accounted with regard to 0.8 with the large-scale seizures within Africa final year, Scanlon said.

"We must deploy the same type of techniques which are deployed to combat additional serious crimes such as illicit trade in narcotics, human trafficking or even illicit trade within arms," he said.

Rangers, custom officials as well as prosecutors must tackle poaching, driven by simply speculators betting upon extinction, he said.


In January, China did its very first crushing regarding confiscated ivory, destroying 6.2 tonnes within Dongguan, along with Hong Kong will be incinerating 28 tonnes, Scanlon said, calling it "a very good signal".

"It is vital that individuals follow-up right after seizures along with investigations to ensure that we could address the whole crime chain proper up towards the receiver as well as the kingpin powering this illegal trade," said Ben Janse van Rensburg, CITES enforcement officer.

China and Kenya, which deploys an elite anti-poaching unit with border points, cooperated closely for you to goal an ivory smuggling syndicate operating among the two states, he said.

"This collaboration resulted inside the arrest of two Chinese nationals within Kenya which has been followed by an extradition in order to China inside early 2014," mentioned Janse van Rensburg, calling these kingpins.

Poachers use sophisticated methods, said Tom de Meulenaer, CITES senior scientific officer. "Elephants are incredibly hard to hunt. In Which is the reason that they resort for you to techniques like poisoning, night goggles and also helicopters."

Southern Africa is home to nearly 55 % involving Africa's recognized elephants, East Africa features 28 percent as well as Central Africa 16 percent, whilst West Africa provides virtually none, CITES said.

Poaching can be worst throughout central Africa, that provides lost a minimum of 0.6 involving its elephants in the past decade, de Meulenaer said. "If this exact same trend carries on inside the next ten many years we might shed practically most with the elephants throughout central Africa."

CITES hosts a July 7-11 meeting for you to assess progress inside eight countries identified last year since the many heavily implicated inside the illegal ivory trade chain. They are Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, China, Malaysia, the actual Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The agency can easily issue any warning or even suspend wildlife trade with a country, however Scanlon said he doubted that will take place at this year's report on your eight offenders.

CITES bans virtually almost all trade in elephant ivory, rhino horns and also tiger parts - usually found in standard medicines - in order to test in order in order to save them through extinction. The Actual animals may additionally be under threat coming from loss involving habitat, climate alter along with pollution.

(This refiled edition associated with the storyline removes double mention involving the Uganda within the ninth paragraph)

(Reporting simply by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing through Toby Chopra)

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