In an article titled “Another inconvenient truth” (a convenient title I must admit), Elizabeth Bennet states that “A continuing global failure to crack down on a booming trade in body parts from endangered animals could soon cause some species – including rhinos and tigers — to “wink out” of existence, a conservation advocate warns. But a couple of recent developments, including a recent United Nations decision to make combating wildlife crime a core concern, and a “potentially powerful” new International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) – could spur needed action.
She says, wildlife criminals are getting away with murder, and she’s right. Stories of illegal traders getting light penalties for killing, transpoting, tradeing and buying illegal species abound including hollywood suppliers , US businesses, veterinarians in South Africa, and even government officials.
Now governments are saying that they are going to get serious about this and bring an end to the illegal trade and threats to endangered species through, wait for it, yes, MORE ENFORCEMENT.
well, I disagree! I just witnessed the burning of 5 tons of contraband ivory from Zambia and Malawi in Kenya that was seized in Singapore in 2002. The scary thing was that this ivory came from government stockpiles that had been raided! Secondly, it was headed for China and Japan, both countries are authorized by CITES to trade in ivory because they can “control the illegal trade”. This was the 19th shipment from southern Africa. The solution demands that Africa invests in high tech enforcement to save species that are in demand in China and Japan. It is garbage that the revenues raised from legal sales through CITES ‘help’ to conserve these charismatic species. In fact, the legal trade triggers demand and leads to unmanageable illegal trade. With China’s growing status in Africa, we know that regardless of penalties in Africa, Chinese nationals are getting off scot free. The solution is not greater enforcement – that is just driving up an arms race that African countries simply can’t win. So long as there is a demand for trade in those countries elephants and rhino’s will continue to die. The solution is to destroy the trade, remove China and Japan as trading partners for ivory, destroy the supply, and kill the demand by changing cultures in China and Japan. We all know that these two countries can do it but they simply don’t have the will.