The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice: Stop the killing: Vegetable Ivory replaces Elephant Ivory.
STOP THE KILLING!
VEGETABLE IVORY REPLACES ELEPHANT IVORY: MAKE A CHOICE & MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
In case you haven’t heard,ivory is a hot commoditythese days. The emergent middle class in China is rapidly driving up demandfor ivory trinkets of various kind, which in turn is increasing poaching throughout Asia and Africa, in some cases even in supposedly protected areas. Various government agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs) are working together to campaign against ivory consumption in the hopes that driving down demand will reduce or eliminate the incentive for poaching. It makes sense, but shifting a longstanding cultural preference could take a while and in the meantime elephants are being slaughtered at an alarming rate.
“Demand certainly needs to be addressed but it will take years and already since 1984 an estimated half of the African elephant population is gone due to poaching,” says Suwanna Gauntlett, CEO of Wildlife Alliance, an organization that works with NGOs, governments, and local communities to combat poaching and deforestation in Southeast Asia, Russia, South America, and the Western Pacific. ”Our take is that there’s no time to wait for a campaign to work. Law enforcement must be addressed in the field. Right now what’s very worrisome is the recent slaughtering of elephants by Ugandan, Sudanese, and Congolese armies, including park rangers themselves–who are supposed to be enforcing anti-poaching laws. There also were 3,000 elephants recently killed in Chad. There’s no way this will stop if we don’t heavily increase law enforcement in the parks.”
But what to do about enforcement when even the park rangers are poaching? Increase salaries, according to Gauntlett. ”
One of reasons law enforcement is not working in some parts of the world is because salary supplements are not going to park rangers,” Gauntlett says. “The attitude when we [industrial countries] give aid is that it’s the responsibility of the host country to pay salaries; there’s not a lot of incentive for foundations to pay park rangers. But since most of the biodiversity in world is in the tropics, if we want to help maintain that, we have to take responsibility for getting those salaries paid.”
Gauntlett’s strategy has worked effectively in the past. Wildlife Alliance helped reduce poaching of Siberian tigers by 80 percent in 15 years (from 1984 to 2001) and in Cambodia–one of Asia’s seven remaining elephant corridors–the organization has reduced elephant poaching by 98 percent over the past 10 years.
In addition to paying park rangers salaries that make it worth their while not to poach or allow poaching, organizations looking to stem the ivory trade need to look at creating other economic opportunities for would-be poachers. In Cambodia, for example, the Wildlife Alliance has helped local families secure land plots and seeds, and worked with them to develop sustainable–and lucrative–farms.
“In cases where poverty is a real driver of poaching and deforestation, law enforcement is still useful, but it won’t address the root of the problem,” Gauntlett says. “Poor families are slashing and burning forest and poaching wildlife, and selling to middle men for revenue, so it’s extremely important in that case to supply alternative livelihoods. We help these families have permanent land for cultivation, we help them access modern technology with low-water-intake drip irrigation, we create village reservoirs for year-round water, and then we teach them to produce fruits and vegetables with a harvest every two weeks so they can sell year round. Some families have multiplied their livelihood by 300 percent.”
“That’s what’s needed to stop poaching and deforestation,” she continues. “You can’t give poor solutions to the poor, you need to give them a normal livelihood.”
Tanzania: Controversy Over Origin $3.4 Million Ivory Seized in Hong Kong
Wildlife authorities have explained that the consignment of elephant tusks that were seized in Hong Kong and reported to have been shipped from Tanzania did not necessarily originate from the country.
But four Tanzanians have been mentioned by the Interpol early this week in connection with the two shipping containers from Tanzania and Kenya that were loaded with ivory and seized in Hong Kong. Interpol Dar es Salaam office told The Citizen in an exclusive interview that their Chinese counterparts have asked Tanzania to trace the four suspects. The Citizen further quoted the Interpol source as saying : “It seems that the ivory consignment seized in Hong Kong last week is from Selous Game Reserve and Mikumi…we shall launch investigations into the matter:”
Speaking in Arusha last weekend, the Wildlife Officer Mr Paul Sarakikya said that in most cases the Dar-es-salaam port could have been used simply as gateway by illegal ivory dealers who usually collect such ‘forbidden treasures’ from as far as Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and other land locked countries.
“Tanzania has succeeded in curbing elephant and other wildlife poaching to a great extent, it may be occurring as isolated cases but such large consignment of ivory could not have been collected from the country,” said Mr. Sarakikya.
The Wildlife Officer however admitted that Tanzania’s ports of entries, such as the Dar-es-salaam harbor need to take greater care in screening containers from other countries being exported from the port because many of them could be carrying illegal goods including ivories.
Last weekend the Hong Kong authorities reportedly confiscated US $3.4 million (nearly 6 Billion/-) worth of elephant tusks found in two shipping containers.
The illegal goods weighed more than 8,000 pounds, making it one of the biggest seizures of ivory in Hong Kong.
The containers, according to Hong Kong Customs officials, had been shipped from Tanzania and Kenya. The agency seized a total of 1,209 pieces of ivory tusks and three pounds of ivory ornaments from the two containers.
Official reports revealed that Hong Kong Customs were alerted by a tip-off from Guangdong officials in China.
Jumbo killings: MP for action on Kagasheki
Dar es Salaam. Elephant poaching has gone out of control in the country, a situation that is causing the biggest stumbling block to Tanzania’s bid to sell its huge ivory stockpile, stakeholders are warning.The leading opposition party, Chadema, is baying for the blood of the minister for Tourism and Natural Resources Khamis Kagasheki, saying he bears full responsibility for the prevailing jumbo slaying.
And international conservation organisations contend that there must be in Tanzania a well-coordinated syndicates that have demonstrated great capacity of repeatedly shipping out large quantities of ivory and which should be regarded as a national security issue.
The Shadow Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Peter Msigwa, said yesterday while he has been vocal on poaching in general and has disciplined his ministry’s officials over illegal exportation of live animals, Mr Kagasheki has been silent over the increasing illicit ivory trade, “which is unusual.”
Mr Msigwa (Chadema, Iringa-Urban) claimed that all indications point to the fact that poaching is now beyond the control of the government.
“Not only has Mr Kagesheki remained mum over the recent seizure of jumbo tusks originating from the Dar es Salaam Port; he has also failed to act on a list of ‘well-placed’ individuals who are involved in the illicit trade that I handed to him in August. We want President Jakaya Kikwete to discipline Mr Kagasheki for his failure to deal with the problem of poaching,” said the shadow minister at a press conference yesterday.
He added: “The minister has even been silent on the most recent incident in Hong Kong where the security personnel there seized Dar-sourced ivory worth over Sh2.5 billion. On whose side is he: poachers or the public?”
Efforts to contact Mr Kagasheki proved futile yesterday. He had, however, told The Citizen soon after the Hong Kong seizure that he would not like to comment on the matter as doing that would risk Tanzania’s bid to sell its ivory stockpile.
Mr Msigwa attributed Mr Kagasheki’s inaction on the issue to the reluctance of the government to work on issues raised by the Opposition, however credible.
The government announced, a few weeks ago, that it has reapplied to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to sell over 101,005kg of its ivory stockpile valued at over $55.5million (about Sh88.8billion) saying the money would be used to fund anti-poaching operations.
However, recent developments, including increased poaching and seizure of ivory in Hong Kong puts Tanzania in a tricky situation.
In 2010, Tanzania unsuccessfully applied to be allowed to sell 90kg of its stockpile, then valued at $20million.
Officials from Traffic International told The Citizen that Tanzania and Kenya are the largest exit points of illegal ivory in the continent. In two years, between 2009 and 2011 seven large-scale ivory seizures involving ivory traceable to Tanzania were made, according to the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), which is the monitoring system run by TRAFFIC for CITES that tracks illicit trade in ivory.
“These seizures collectively represent nearly 20 tonnes of elephant tusks. It is worth noting that only a single case involves a seizure made in Tanzania, whilst all other cases went undetected until they were seized in Asian transit countries,” Tom Milliken, an ivory trade expert working with TRAFFIC told The Citizen last week.
Tanzania currently faces a major illegal ivory trade challenge, said Mr Milliken in an email response to queries from The Citizen, adding: “The fact that it appears that no successful investigations, arrests or convictions have been made… suggests that law enforcement in Tanzania is not meeting with much success in disrupting the organised crime syndicates behind this trade.”
Mr Msigwa also said the situation was alarming, citing statistics showing that on average, 30 elephants are killed everyday in Tanzania.
“The movement of one tonne of ivory or more at a single time represents the work of organised criminal syndicates in the trade,” Mr Milliken said.
Contacted for comment yesterday, the deputy minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, said:
“It is true that Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar are exit points for ivory but I don’t know how big they are. I’m not competent enough to answer to that question because I don’t have data on exit points in other countries.”
Dr Richard Thomas TRAFFIC International Communications Coordinator also told The Citizen that the fact that Tanzania is “consistently being used as a departure point indicates that smugglers consider it relatively ‘safe bet’.
Tanzania has one of the world’s last great repositories of elephants, with a population of at least 80,000, which is about a quarter of this variety of mammal in African.
SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer.
Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras
Gustavo López Ospina
Pieter Jan Brouwer
Assistant: Emilia Romero
The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice is associated with the International Environmental Mission, a grass roots citizens movement created by Chilean Senator Juan Pablo Letelier.