Nigeria’s commercial hub, Lagos has the largest numbers of ivory trinkets on open sale in Africa, according to Kenyan-based campaign group Save the Elephants said in a new report.
“The surge in the price of ivory is driving a wave of killing of elephants across Africa that shows little sign of abating,” the group noted.
The group rated Angola’s capital city, Luanda as the second African city with the largest ivory sales. Although dealers in illegal ivory in Lagos trade in secret, curbed by regulations, Luanda traders appeared unperturbed by possibility of getting caught, the report said.
Illegal wildlife trade and environmental crime is estimated by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to be worth $70 – $213 billion annually, which is comparable to a global official development assistance envelope of about $135 billion per annum.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)-MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants) suggests that 15,000 elephants were killed illegally at the 42 sites monitored by MIKE in 2012. The forest elephant population size has therefore been estimated to decline by 62 percent between 2002 and 2011, with number of elephants killed in Africa estimated to be between 22 – 25,000 per year.
According to UNEP’s environmental crime report, if it is assumed that 22–25,000 elephants are killed every year, with 1.8 tusks per elephant and 5.5 kg per tusk, priced at $750 per kg of raw ivory in Asia (which has reportedly increased to $2,100 in 2014). This means the African ivory gathered through poaching may fetch an end-user street value of $165–$188 million in Asia.
“With the ivory price in Africa a tenth of that in China, substantial profits are being generated for organised crime that fuels insecurity, corruption, and deprives local communities of valuable income,” Save the Elephants noted.
The Save the Elephants group noted that China remained the world’s biggest market for illegal ivory trade with prices tripling in the past four years, noting according to the founder, Iain Douglas-Hamilton that “Without concerted international action to reduce the demand for ivory, measures to reduce the killing of elephants for ivory will fail.”
Thailand is another hotspot for illegal ivory trade, according to CITES. The group warned that poaching has gone up to an industrial-scale in order to satisfy demand for ivory in Thailand and China. In 2013, over 2000 African elephants were poached for their tusks.
Asides being a large source of terrorism funding in Africa, developing economies also lose revenues in billions of dollars, as well as development opportunities as a result of illegal ivory trade and other natural resources.