The best hope of winning the war against ivory poaching is to target the mega-consignments of elephant tusks as they are smuggled out of Africa, according to a new report which finds that most ivory is shipped out of the continent in as few as 100 giant hauls a year.
“The transit or supply chain is the single greatest point of vulnerability in the illicit ivory system. Intercepting and dismantling the networks that transport them is vital,” said Adam Roberts, head of the Born Free Foundation in Washington, which commissioned the research.
The report estimated that about three-quarters of illegal ivory trade is transported in between 100 and 200 enormous consignments a year.
It also finds that the majority of shipments out of Africa goes through just three ports: Mombasa in Kenya and Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar in Kenya.
The report is the first to identify the need to focus more of the available resources on the transport of ivory and less on deterring the poachers and reducing demand.
“There are, for all practical purposes, near infinite supplies of poachers in the ‘bush’; just three to five per cent of ivory retail values still equal many months’ salary for most rural Africans,” said the report, conducted by the research group C4ADS.
“At market in East Asia, rising incomes make for a large pool of consumers who are not easily or quickly persuaded to change centuries-old preferences,” it adds.
The investigation revealed that between 2009 and June 2014, there were more than 190 large-scale ivory seizures, weighing a total of 170 tons. This amounts to about 229,700 elephants in six years.Reuse content