The Kenyan government has already given clear indication that they will not budge from their policy of a complete prohibition of trade in ivory and related products during the next CITES conference due in Qatar in March this year. The last such concession, to permit Southern African countries to sell their “legal stocks” immediately resulted in increased poaching in eastern Africa, from where – it is alleged – ivory is then smuggled to those countries with the aim of then exporting it as their own under the exemptions.
In particular, Kenya was hit by a wave of poaching last year, hardening their stand against any concessions on the matter. Compared to 2007, poaching figures for elephant quadrupled in Kenya in 2009, and reliable sources from within the Kenyan tourism and wildlife management bodies lay the blame squarely on the CITES decisions taken at the last global meeting. Meanwhile, it was learned that Tanzania and Zambia are lobbying this time round to relax the total ban again, while previous beneficiaries in Southern Africa have drawn much fire and criticism from the conservation fraternity around the world, at least in the public arena.
The hunger and greed for the “white gold,” as ivory is also known, is largely fueled by China and other south and far eastern countries, with little or no regard at all to conservation measures taken in Africa, which are crucial to support and maintain wildlife and nature-based tourism.
In the past, Kenya has taken equally-hard positions against ivory trading, when tons of seized tusks were publicly burned in an act of defiance to global ivory trading, putting to shame the arguments advanced by other countries lobbying for a “one off” sale of ivory “to raise money for conservation” – shame on them and bouquets for the Kenyans who continue to oppose this short-sighted decision at the next CITES meeting.
Notably though, Interpol and other global agencies are now increasingly resorting to DNA analysis to establish the origin of ivory and other illegally-traded animal skins and products to combat illegal trade, and it is widely expected that this method of fighting for the survival of wildlife species will rather grow in coming years, making use of the latest technology.