Reports this week of rampant poaching by armed forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo add a disturbing twist to the recent announcement of a seizure of more than one tonne of ivory in Vietnam.
These alarming events come after seven months of record poaching incidents and seizures. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) commends the authorities for the arrests that have been made but warns that much more needs to be done to reduce the threat to elephants.
All ivory sales should be banned
"As long as demand for ivory in China continues to rise, elephants in Africa and Asia will be under increasing pressure from poaching," said James Isiche, IFAW East Africa Director. "China and Japan may have bought legal ivory in 2008 but here in elephant range states we continue to pay the price for that purchase as any legal trade in ivory provides the cover for ivory trafficking. We know what the solution is - it worked in 1989 and it can work again - a full and complete ban on all sales of ivory."
DRC soldiers poaching ivory
According to media reports, soldiers from different parts of the DRC conduct massive poaching raids in the Okapi Reserve, in the north-east of the DRC near the Ugandan border. Local populations are coerced into leading soldiers to find their wildlife targets, predominantly elephants. The soldiers use automatic weapons for poaching from the 7,500 forest elephants in the reserve; the largest remaining population in eastern DRC. More....