MORE TANZANIA BLOOD IVORY NABBED IN HONG KONG
Information was just received that customs in Hong Kong have again detected and confiscated more than a ton of blood ivory, shipped from Dar es Salaam via Dubai and destined for onward transport to an un-named final destination thought to be on the China mainland.
More than 1.3 tons of ivory, in a total of 569 pieces, worth nearly 1.4 million US Dollars, was detected in a container declared as sunflower seeds and plastic waste. Only last month were two shipments of blood ivory detected in one day, making it a record haul but prompting an initial series of denials from Tanzanian officials, until arrest warrants were issued through Interpol for at least 3 individuals resident in Tanzania, asking yet more questions on the country’s ability to stem poaching. Earlier in the year were several wildlife officials sacked and demoted as a result of the role they played in illegal wildlife exports and it is understood from a reliable source in Dar es Salaam, that no nonsense Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ambassador Kagesheki, is leaving no stone unturned at present to have a new anti poaching strategy developed and put into place.
Tanzania has applied to CITES for the one off sale of over 100 tons of what they describe ‘legal’ ivory to raise funds for anti poaching activities and seems set to commit the entire proceeds to the purpose of wildlife conservation and management this time, unlike at the last CITES Conference when there was some deliberate vagueness in the proposal how any funds would be spent. At the time did the CITES Secretariat also compile a report about the state of affairs in Tanzania vis a vis wildlife smuggling and poaching. Compared to 2 years ago, the number of elephant now killed every day is estimated to be in excess of 30, mostly in the Selous Game Reserve, the Mikumi National Park and in fact across the country, which has seriously impacted on Tanzania’s standing in the international arena. This latest find of blood ivory will only fuel demands that the time for words has gone and that some major new initiative to combat the commercial style slaughter of elephant for their tusks is now needed, or else the last big herds of elephant will soon only be found in film and books as narratives but no longer in free range.
Watch this space.