KUCHING: A public awareness talk on poaching of elephant ivory was held at the USCI University, Sarawak campus on Friday night.
The talk called ‘Ivory, Horn and Blood’ was presented by Dr Ronald Orenstein who holds a PhD in Zoology from the University of Michigan and an LLB from the University of Toronto.
“The first ivory crisis happened between 1979 and 1989 when more than 600,000 elephants was slaughtered which is more than half of their worldwide population,” said Orenstein to more than 80 participants made up of students from institutes of higher learning and members of various conservationist associations.
He also said that the market price of ivory rose from 900 per cent between the 1960s and the 1980s as more demands are made particularly in eastern countries such as China and Japan.
Dr Orenstein also pointed out that wildlife trafficking is fast becoming big business similar to firearms and drugs which is sadly, also run by international organised crime syndicates.
“These kingpins are the middle man of the trade who rakes in the most profits,” said Dr Orenstein who is a consultant for the Humane Society International and has represented the society at many conventions on International Trade in Wildlife Species of Fauna and Flora (Cites).
The poachers he said are mainly those who are driven into the trade due to poverty and have access to firearms. Corruption among government officials especially in failed states according to him are also the main contributor to the growth of the ivory and rhinocerous horn market.
The talk was jointly organised by the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre and the Malaysian Nature Society Kuching branch.