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optig

The ivory storage in Tanzania

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Posted (edited)

http://www.ippmedia.com/en/news/destroy-your-‘huge’-ivory-stockpile-tanzania-challenged?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=socialnetwork

 

I sincerely hope that Tanzania will either follow Kenya's example and destroy all of this seized ivory or use it in sculptures to educate the population

not to poach elephants. It's simply too risky to let it remain in storage because there is the considerable risk of theft and of course smuggling.

Anyways,I'm glad that due to CITES the government can't sell it.

Edited by optig
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Yours views on this subject are constantly repeated, but, in my opinion, that doesn't make them correct.

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Posted (edited)

I quite often find myself disagreeing with some of @optig’s at times decidedly hard line views, however in this case he does have a point.

 

While the ivory trade remains rightly in my view illegal this ivory cannot be sold it therefore has no economic value to Tanzania and storing it is a financial burden to the country, you can’t just lock it in storeroom and walk away. It is has to be kept in a facility that can be securely guarded against theft, you need to ensure that local criminals can’t break in and steal it and that it won’t mysteriously disappear as is wont to happen.

 

The following is from a 2014 article in the Independent debating the issue of what to do with ivory stockpiles.

 

Seizures of illegal ivory are at record levels. Storing high-value contraband goods is expensive, and a financial burden to countries struggling to find resources to combat the crime that results in confiscation. Tanzania, at the epicentre of the poaching crisis, spends over $100,000 a year on securing its stockpiles, which have grown to massive proportions over the past three decades.

 

Stockpiles provide temptation and opportunity for corrupt officials to “leak” ivory on to the market: Mozambique and Zambia have “lost” tons of ivory from strong rooms – in the case of Zambia, through the air-conditioning unit. The Philippines cited this enforcement challenge as one of their primary reasons for disposing of all their ivory last year, having lost almost a ton from their “secure” strong room.

 

Debate: Should ivory stockpiles be destroyed?

 

If that figure of $100,000 is really accurate then I would suggest that destroying these stockpiles is a reasonable course of action, rather than carrying on wasting money storing them given that the ivory trade won’t be legalised.

 

It was for reasons of cost and the fact that ivory has disappeared from stockpiles in neighbouring countries, that Malawi recently burnt its ivory stockpile, they didn’t want to go on wasting money storing it and have rangers tied up guarding the stockpile when they should be out in the bush protecting wildlife. Or find that much of the ivory supposedly being guarded has leaked out and been sold illegally. Furthermore the ivory they were storing was seized illegal tusks which cannot ever be sold under CITES rules, so even if the trade were eventually legalised they could not sell this ivory. I should just say that’s according to the following article from a Malawian paper I haven’t checked as to exactly what the CITES rules are, but I've no reason to doubt that this is correct.

 

Doing wildlife justice to Malawi’s ivory stockpile

 

This is I believe what could be called a catch 22 because yes obviously if you burn stockpiles it risks putting up the price of ivory encouraging further poaching, but at the same time why should poor countries waste money storing ivory that has no economic value.

 

I am not personally arguing that burning ivory is the right thing to do (I'm undecided) I'm simply pointing out that there are valid arguments for burning stockpiles.

 

@@douglaswise Of course you believe that the solution to this predicament is to legalise the sale of ivory but I don’t wish to debate that point at the moment, I'll just say that it won’t happen or not any time soon.

Edited by inyathi
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@@inyathi I don't think my views I don't think that my views are hardline at all; i feel that they are realistic concerning the need to end elephant poaching. Please take into account what happened in 2008 when CITES allowed Botswana,Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to make a one time sale of their stock of seized ivory-the result was that it resulted in significantly increased poaching. Thus it exacerbated an already horrendous situation. I won't go into detail here who wants to allow the sale of seized stocks of ivory in Namibia,Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Can anyone sincerely believe that this would help conservation or do anything for local communities?

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@@optig I didn't really mean that your views on elephants were hard line, I meant more generally with regard to hunting thinking back to the discussion on mountain nyalas for example, I agree with what you say about elephants.

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@inyathi:

 

I will, as you wish, avoid re-starting the pro-/anti-trade debate. However, I would question your statement to the effect that stockpiled seized ivory can never be sold under CITES rules. This somewhat illogical ruling obtained in the past, but there is no reason to assume that, should trade be resumed, that it will necessarily apply in the future.

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@@inyathi I don't feel that my post about the mountain Nyala was at all hard line for the simple reason it is by all accounts an endangered species. There are only an estimated 2,000 to 4,500 left in the wild. As you know hunters are supposed to hunt only the males, which are a past breeding age but since this is an animal which is hunted a distance it is inevitable even the most conscientious hunters, will make errors and shoot males still capable of breeding. I was shocked to learn that the USFWS was allowing the trophies mountain Nyala to be imported into the United States.

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Posted (edited)

@@douglaswise I didn't want to get back into the ivory debate at present, but I feel should respond to what you've said by stating that CITES ruling isn't entirely illogical, it is clearly intended to prevent illegal ivory from entering the legal trade and to stop the system from being abused as it was in the past. When there was a legal trade in ivory back in the 80s, Burundi was infamously allowed to register its the huge tonnage of ivory with CITES and legally export it, despite the fact there was only 1 single elephant in the entire country. Burundi's elephants had already been effectively poached to extinction, but despite basically having no elephants, between 1965 and 1986 Burundi exported 1,300 tonnes of ivory, that equates to 12-13,000 elephants. All of the ivory in the country was poached ivory, in those days much of the illegal ivory from all around the region was smuggled into Burundi ending up in Bujumbura because their laws were so lax, a fair amount was quite often flown out of the country on the now defunct Belgian airline Sabena, Belgium hadn't at that point joined CITES. In order to persuade Burundi to join CITES it was agreed that they would be able to have all of this illegal ivory registered, so that it could be sold legally with CITES permits. A well known name in the world of conservation and ivory in East Africa at the time, Ian Parker was brought into inspect Burundi's ivory, an extremely dodgy deal was done with the country's biggest ivory trader Zulfikar Rahemtullah, he offered Parker 40 tonnes of ivory for inspection and then on the sly bought up another 20 tonnes from rival dealers at low prices, and added this to the list at the last minute, without any of it being inspected. As it amounted to an additional 300 tusks, Parker didn't have time to inspect it, however everyone was so keen to get the deal done so that Burundi would join CITES, they decided to ignore the fact that the extra ivory hadn't been inspected and it was just as it were given the nod. Part of the deal was that once Burundi joined, they would stop the smuggling of illegal ivory but this did not happen, Bujumbura remained a centre for a illegal ivory for several more years.

 

You can find a more detailed account of this in the book Ivory Power and Poaching in Africa by Keith Somerville

 

This major fiasco is one of the reasons why the ivory trade was ended, it made an absolute mockery of the whole system. This I would suggest is why they have a rule dictating that poached ivory cannot be sold, the Burundi fiasco made a laughing stock out of CITES. This whole sorry business is one reason why I am so sceptical about the idea of starting a new legal trade in ivory.

 

The following is from a Wikipedia article on the ivory trade

In 1986 and 1987, CITES registered 89.5 and 297 tonnes of ivory in Burundi and Singapore respectively. Burundi had one known live wild elephant and Singapore had none. The stockpiles were recognised to have largely come from poached elephants.[9][10] The CITES Secretariat was later admonished by the USA delegate for redefining the term "registration" as "amnesty".[6] The result of this was realised in undercover investigations by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a small underfunded NGO, when they met with traders in Hong Kong.[6][9] Large parts of the stockpiles were owned by international criminals behind the poaching and illegal international trade. Well-known Hong Kong-based traders such as Wang and Poon were beneficiaries of the amnesty, and elephant expert Iain Douglas-Hamilton commented on the Burundi amnesty that it "made at least two millionaires".[10] EIA confirmed with their investigations that not only had these syndicates made enormous wealth, but they also possessed huge quantities of CITES permits with which they continued to smuggle new ivory, which if stopped by customs, they produced the paper permit. CITES had created a system which increased the value of ivory on the international market, rewarded international smugglers and gave them the ability to control the trade and continue smuggling new ivory.[6][9]

 

Edited by inyathi
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@inyathi:

 

I take your point. Illogical may have been a wrong term. However, it is worth pointing out that the Zimbabwe has made representations to CITES complaining that inability to sell seized ivory, the seizure of which has incurred considerable expenditure, was unreasonable. Also, as you are no doubt aware, Somerville is strongly pro-trade.

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Posted (edited)

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-17-1307_en.htm

 

This comes as welcome news, especially since certain professional hunters and pro traders were predicting that, once Trump was elected President that the US would lift the ivory ban which Obama put in place. They overlooked the fact that it was overwhelmingly supported by the American people,and that the American courts said there could be no more elephant heads imported from either Tanzania or Zimbabwe because elephant hunting was no longer sustainable in those two countries.

Edited by optig

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  • the ivory trade is a remarkable destroyer of elephants

attempts to have a regulated trade has created nothing but disaster

the corruption is probably too high to ever have an effective legal trade

the existing trade is conducted by organised criminals who have no intention of going away

the elephant numbers credited to Zimbabwe could easily be elephants who have migrated from Botswana

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@@COSMIC RHINO:

 

I would like to correct several of your typically strident claims:

 

The illegal ivory trade is, indeed, a remarkable destroyer of elephants.

There is no unequivocal evidence that attempts to have a regulated trade have created nothing but disaster - not that it was sensible to try one-off sales.

Your third point may be valid, but there are potential ways of overcoming the corruption issue.

Your final point may well be correct. In fact, it is. It is your implication that is incorrect. Though elephants are known to cross boundaries, combined population numbers in north western Matabeleland and northern Botswana are regarded by most ecologists to be excessive. It is true that the separate population of elephants in the Sebungwe region of Zimbabwe is declining very fast in consequence of what many consider to be a state sponsored poaching campaign. There is also growing evidence that, in consequence of the trophy hunting ban in Botswana, elephant poaching in the northern region has dramatically increased.

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