Global ivory seizures hit record high of 40-tonnes
Nearly 40-tonnes of trafficked ivory was seized around the world last year, a record high, according to a report by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This comes even as elephant poaching in Africa declined for the fifth straight year. Elephant poaching appears to have leveled off in most places. CITES has welcomed the development but with caution.
The report states that the 40-tonnes of ivory seized in 2016 is the most since 1989 and the highest-ever figures for "large-scale ivory seizures." "The overall weight of seized ivory in illegal trade is now nearly three times greater than what was observed in 2007," CITES has noted. Meanwhile, ivory prices have dropped by nearly 50% in recent years.
The CITES report states that the record seizures could be due to increased awareness and greater law enforcement. It also indicates that there's been an increase in ivory smuggling. CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon believes international poachers and smugglers may be resorting to a "panic sell-off as they realize that speculating on extinction was a bad bet, with the ever-increasing risk of getting caught."
The elephant population in Africa has dropped by 111,000 from 2006 to 2015, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). CITES said the elephant population is stabilizing or increasing in southern Africa and much of East Africa. Elephant poaching remains high in the violence-ridden Central African countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.