Elephant poaching and ivory trade on the rise

Elephants in Central Africa have been hit hard by a recent poaching surge. An estimated 4,000 to 12,000 elephants are killed each year for their tusks—and last year was the worst on record for large ivory seizures according to WWF’s wildlife trade monitoring arm TRAFFIC.
A new WFF report, Illegal ivory sales in Egypt, shows that the illegal trade in elephant ivory is flourishing in Egypt due to a lack of law enforcement and a new consumer— Chinese buyers.

An unidentified carver uses illegal ivory from elephant tusks to craft his wares.
The reports says that “Egypt remains one of Africa’s largest markets for illegal ivory items. No ivory items—old or new—can be sold legally in Egypt without a special permit, and none has ever been issued.”
The once encouraging demise of Egypt’s illegal ivory markets between 1998 and 2005 has now lost all momentum, says Tom Milliken, who commissioned the study. “Government regulators have faltered and Egypt retains its unenviable position as a leading ivory retailing offender. Tourists buying ivory are potentiating this illegal trade and fuelling the poaching of Africa’s elephants.”
One ivory vendor told the investigators that Chinese buyers would sometimes spend $US50,000 on ivory during one bargaining session. Others claimed there was no problem in bringing ivory out of Egypt, with some even offering to write a receipt indicating that a piece was an antique or made of camel bone.
The Egyptian Wildlife Service is mandated to prevent illegal wildlife products from coming into and out of the country and from being displayed in shops, but there have been few ivory seizures since 2005, while inspections of retail outlets have failed to find ivory. Meanwhile, ivory continues to be openly carved and displayed in Cairo’s markets without any prosecution ensuing.