Tanzania conservation breaking news – Over 1.000 tusks confiscated at Zanzibar port


News broke overnight that authorities at the harbour in Zanzibar have managed to intercept a shipment of blood ivory, containing over 1.000 elephant tusks hidden amongst other cargo destined, according to cargo documents, for Malaysia. While it is understood that at least two suspects were taken into custody, the financiers and key figures suspected to be behind the criminal racket are still at large.

Conservationists consulted were of the view that the blood ivory could be from parks on the mainland where poaching in recent months has risen to record levels, but that ‘transit blood ivory’ could also not be ruled out, as Tanzania has become notorious as a convenient shipment route for ivory and even birds and reptiles from other hinterland countries, where poaching is said to be even worse.

Much of the ivory confiscated, in Eastern Africa and in the Far and South East, has been destined for China and observers were not ruling out that Malaysia was only to be used as a waypoint before the blood cargo could be delivered to the intended clients.

Notably though have news also emerged overnight that the China Wildlife Conservation Association, in association with partners like TRAFFIC and co-funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, are presently using the China Radio International broadcasts to Africa to warn Chinese citizens of buying ivory, rhino horn and other wildlife products, nor attempt to smuggle it back home at the end of their deployment, or when going on vacation. Jail terms under present law in China can reach up to 5 years for those caught attempting to bring ivory into China, but longer jail terms and heavier fines are being advocated for enactment in China, and other Far and South Eastern countries, to serve as a greater deterrent and slow down demand for the ‘white gold’. Chinese companies working on the African continent too have been drawn into the campaign, as it is slowly being recognized how damaging to the Chinese image abroad ivory smuggling has become and how in particular the demand from within China has propelled poaching in Africa to new heights.

A commendable initiative concludes this correspondent, worth supporting and prolonging, while continuing to lobby the Chinese government to play a greater role in eliminating demand and helping Africa to maintain its priceless wildlife heritage. 


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