A monthly update on press coverage of the international illegal ivory trade.
This month’s seizure figures represent at least 64 dead elephants, bringing the total since this time last year to at least 3,530…*
March – Africa
INTERPOL’s Operation Worthy, cracking down on illegal ivory traders is launched in 14 African countries and leads to a number of arrests and the confiscation of over 250kg of ivory as well as other wildlife products. Full report
9th March – Binga, Zimbabwe
The vehicle carrying a routine police patrol becomes stuck in mud, shortly after which another vehicle suffers the same fate nearby. Police become suspicious and search the second vehicle, finding 4 tusks and marijuana and arresting three occupants, one of which is Assistant Commissioner of the Zimbabwe Prison Services. Full report
19th-23rd March – Isiolo county, Kenya
Following a shoot-out with wildlife rangers in which 3 poachers are killed, 30kg of ivory and firearms are impounded. Full report
25th-28th March – Nr Boumba-Bek and Nki National Parks, Cameroon
Forest rangers from two national parks in southeast Cameroon descend on poachers, arresting 12 and seizing 14 tusks, 30kg of elephant meat and firearms.Full report
30th March – Guinea
Guinea sees its first ever arrests of wildlife traffickers, with 7 arrests and the seizure of 80kg of ivory and 10 leopard skins.
Following last month’s reports of a high level of elephant poaching in Virunga National Park, park officials announce the introduction of 5 trained sniffer dogs to the Park’s anti-poaching arsenal. The Park’s first canine assisted operation follows thediscovery of a poached elephant missing its tusks and involves 2 dogs tracking poachers over 7 km in two days. This results in armed conflict with suspected poachers and the recovery of firearms.
* Customs authorities and police agencies can only do so much – seized tusks, carvings, chopsticks and jewellery represent a small percentage of all the illegal ivory in trade at any point in time. It has been estimated that in order to supply this total amount, 38,000 elephants – at least 8% of the entire African elephant population – are being killed annually.