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 But now it’s been superseded by the Chinese, who are probably buying half of all the ivory,” he said.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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    Diplomats Hope to Revive Cradle of Civilization After Defeat of IS

    Diplomats from around globe gather at US State Department, discuss how to rebuild minority communities shattered by Islamic State group

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100% Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100% Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora