News / Africa

Egypt Called Major Hub of Illegal Ivory Trade

A carver displays an ivory walking stick, an item popular with Egyptian and Gulf Arab buyers
A carver displays an ivory walking stick, an item popular with Egyptian and Gulf Arab buyers
Joe DeCapua

A new report names Egypt as the center of illegal ivory trade and smuggling in Africa. With the political unrest of the Arab Spring, illegal ivory outlets and workshops have done a booming business.

The report, which appears in TRAFFIC Bulletin, said illegal ivory products are readily available in Cairo and Luxor. Co-authors Esmond Martin and Lucy Vigne visited Egypt in March and April of 2011. Martin says there was no attempt to hide any of the ivory.

“We found over 9,000 pieces of ivory in Cairo and in Luxor. Most of it in Cairo. And all of this ivory is of illegal origin. It’s not allowed to be sold. It’s not actually--I don’t think--allowed to even be displayed for commercial purposes,” he said.

He said the 9,000 pieces were only those on display. They did not include any stocks that might be hidden or in storage. He says much of the ivory is shipped through Sudan on its way to Egypt.

“The ivory itself, the tusks, probably came from Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and the Cote’ D’Ivoire. So those tucks seem to funnel through Sudan and then up into mostly Cairo itself and to a place called Khan al-Khalili, which is the main market,” he said.

China

The report said China is the biggest market for illegal ivory, but much is also smuggled to the Persian Gulf states in the form of prayer beads and walking sticks.

“The Chinese now are the major consumers and buyers of ivory in Egypt. Before it was the French, Spanish and the Americans. But now it’s been superseded by the Chinese, who are probably buying half of all the ivory,” he said.

The ivory smuggling to China is taking a big toll on Africa’s elephant population.

“The Chinese are the biggest importer of illegal ivory in the world. And it’s the single biggest problem concerning elephants in all of Africa and in parts of Asia, but mostly in Africa. So we’ve got to sort this situation out. Lucy Vigne and I were in China last year roughly at this time and we did surveys in the southern part of the country. And we saw a lot more ivory available for sale than there was before. And the price was about $750 a kilo for the raw tucks,” he said.

Martin said there’s no evidence Chinese officials are involved in the ivory trade. In fact, he said the Chinese take the situation very seriously and have harsh penalties for anyone caught with illegal ivory. The problem is there are so many small-scale smugglers in Africa sending ivory to China it’s difficult stop the flow.

What can be done?

Egypt is a member of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Martin said he brought the problem of the illegal ivory trade to the attention of Egyptian authorities and asked them to crackdown.

“When I asked them why they don’t do it they said they have difficulties identifying elephant ivory from camel bone. Other people in the government have told me that they’re a little bit concerned about their security going into these back streets in in this market called the Khan AL-Khalili,” he said.

He said the Egyptian government should conduct raids on the illegal ivory shops.

“If they’re not willing to do that I think that pressure we have is on the tourist industry. In 2010, Egypt had about 13 million foreign tourists. And we could get the tour operators and the tour companies to put some pressure on the Egyptian government to enforce their own laws. Also we can put up posters and give out information within Egypt itself, especially in Cairo, stating that the purchase of the ivory is illegal. The export of it is illegal and the import of it into their home countries is illegal. It’s just an education thing,” he said.

A possible alternative to the elephant ivory, Martin said, is ivory from mammoths, the extinct elephant-like animal with long curved tusks and long hair. Martin says the sale of mammoth ivory is increasing in China. Hong Kong is said to import up to 30,000 kilos of mammoth ivory a year for the past few years.

However, no one knows just how much mammoth ivory is available in Siberia in northeastern Russia. But the trade has sharply increased since the break-up of the Soviet Union.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid