By Samuel Karanja
Tanzania is the top source of illegal ivory in East Africa, Interpol report shows. The report released Monday shows that approximately 30 elephants are killed in Tanzania daily, amounting to more than 10,000 annually.
Kenya, it says, experienced lower rates of poaching in 2013 compared to Tanzania, partly due to better law enforcement.
The port of Mombasa accounted for the largest volume of seizures in Africa with over 10 tonnes of illegal ivory intercepted between January and October 2013.
“A significant portion of ivory illicitly trafficked to international markets especially in Asia is derived from elephant populations in Tanzania,” says the report.
About 22,000 elephants were killed illegally in Africa in 2012, a slight drop from the 25,000 in 2011.
Tanzania’s elephant population has continued to plummet in recent years. In Selous Game Reserve which had the world’s second largest elephant population of 70,000 in 2006, the numbers have fallen to an estimated 39,000 in 2009 and currently stand at 13,084.
“Moreover, the elephant population in Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park has declined by 44 per cent since 2006 and now numbers approximately 20,090,” says the report.
The report which was launched at the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi by David Higgins of Environmental Crime Programme also revealed that in 2013, global ivory seizures reached record levels. Many of these seizures occurred in East Africa or in transit to Asia with an East African origin.
“Eighteen large-scale seizures of over 500 kgs accounted for 41.6 tonnes of illicit ivory in 2013; these seizures represent increases over previous years mirroring heightened rates of elephant poaching throughout Africa,” the Interpol report read.
Although poaching in Kenya has reduced in recent months following heightened security and aggressive anti-poaching campaigns, the country is being used as a transit route through the port of Mombasa. Interpol said Uganda though a landlocked country is also becoming a transit route for illegal ivory mostly from Tanzania.
“Of particular interest is the use of Uganda, a landlocked country as a transit point for Tanzanian ivory which is packaged in shipping containers and transported to the port of Mombasa in Kenya for onward international transport,” the report reveals.
Mr Higgins called for a new approach in combating poaching and illegal animal trophies trade.