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 But now it’s been superseded by the Chinese, who are probably buying half of all the ivory,” he said.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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    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 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 A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    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 First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    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.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora