Tackling Demand for Elephants on Black Market

  • Legislative Moves: On October 4, the United Kingdom announced plans to ban all ivory sales. This will replace the current law that allows certain ivory items produced before March 3, 1947 to be sold. The exemptions of the new ban cover museum transactions, musical instruments (such as pianos with ivory keys), items containing traces of ivory and those with significant historic, artistic or cultural value. Although the U.K does not have a big market for ivory and is not thought to contribute significantly to elephant poaching, the World Wildlife Fund reports that there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of ivory sold to China by the U.K. since 2005.
  • In the Field: Asian elephants face poaching epidemics too, but recently it has been not for their ivory. Poachers are removing their grey skin to turn it into red beads for bracelets and necklaces for Chinese jewelry markets. The expensive pieces are said to ward off illness.
  • Scientific Advancements: Mark Moseley recently invented a kit that can identify fingerprints up to four weeks old on confiscated ivory. Previous kits could only recognize prints from a few days earlier. This longer span allows for the possibility of identifying more of the intermediaries in other stages of the ring.
  • Poacher Statistics: According to ZimParks, 408 poachers were arrested between January and September 2017, of which 388 were Zimbabweans and 20 were foreigners.

Sources: Defence Web (Africa’s leading defence news portal), London Evening Standard, and Mirror Online

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