News / Africa

Illegal Ivory Trade Found in Burma Town

Ivory and leopard skin on display for sale in Mong La, Burma. Credit: Chris Shepherd
Ivory and leopard skin on display for sale in Mong La, Burma. Credit: Chris Shepherd

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on illegal ivory sales in Burma

Joe DeCapua
An undercover team of conservationists has found thousands of pieces of pieces of ivory being sold openly in a town in Burma, also known as Myanmar. The town is on the border with China, where the demand for illegal animal products is high.


The undercover team included members from the conservation organization TRAFFIC and Oxford Brookes University. The team found 3,300 pieces of ivory – as well as 50 raw elephant tusks – in Mong La in Shan State in the northeastern part of the country.

Dr. Chris Shepherd, TRAFFIC’s Regional Director in Southeast Asia, said. “There’s a very large wildlife market full of all different endangered and threatened and illegal species – everything from elephants to tigers, birds, ungulates, all kinds of things. Ivory, we found a shocking amount of ivory -- a lot more than we’ve seen in the past there. In the past we’ve seen small amounts, but we didn’t expect to find this much.”

Surveys in the past found a much different trade in animal products.

“That market has largely been species brought in for sale for meat and traditional medicine and some trophies, but not as much. It’s been a lot of deer brought in daily for meat, civets, smaller cats, otters, those sorts of things. And then trophies – some cat skins and antlers and horns of species,” he said.

Shepherd said that it’s difficult to tell how much of the illegal animal products in the town came from Africa.

“We did find products that were from Africa -- hippo teeth, for example. So, it’s likely. And also the volume of the ivory. It would be terrifying if it was all from Asian elephants given the state of Asian elephants.”

TRAFFIC will report its findings to government officials in Burma and China. Both countries are members of CITES – the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

“There are tools to use to tackle this trade to ensure that it’s not crossing the border and that the markets are eventually shutdown, said Shepherd.

He added that China has been doing more than most countries to crackdown on the illegal ivory trade. However, he said more must be done to prevent a repeat of what was found in the Burmese border town.


For example, he said, “The need for reducing demand in China, for the ivory. We’ve got to kill the market, kill the demand. And I think that’s an incredibly important step. The other, though, is enforcement and that’s enforcement within China, enforcement within Myanmar, and cooperation between the two countries. And using CITES as a tool, really, to collaborate and to put this tool into action and shutdown these cross border markets.”

Last week, China publicly destroyed six tons of confiscated ivory in Guangdong.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: sornsiri from: Thailand
January 18, 2014 12:48 PM
How much of the Ivory?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs