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 But now it’s been superseded by the Chinese, who are probably buying half of all the ivory,” he said.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

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid