for Tanzania’s proposal to weaken international protection for African
elephants and trade internationally in nearly 90 tonnes of ivory
appears to be evaporating at the CITES meeting in Doha, Qatar this
week. In breaking news from the conference hall, the CITES Secretariat
has issued a statement opposing the Tanzania proposal. The CITES
Secretariat has expressed concern about enforcement and compliance in
Tanzania and that “anti-poaching efforts in some parts of the country
seem inadequate, the ivory stocks cannot be fully verified, and
controls of illegal trade in raw ivory originating from or transiting
through the United Republic of Tanzania appear to be unsatisfactory.”
Shelley Waterland, Programmes Manager of the Born Free Foundation and
Chair of the Species Survival Network’s Elephant Working Group said,
“The weight of evidence stacked against Tanzania’s foolhardy potential
adventure into ivory trading is overwhelming. Institutional corruption,
the loss of more than 30,000 elephants in just 3 years, inadequate
security measures, and the impact that ivory trade would have on the
security of elephants across the continent all justify rejection of the
A CITES Panel of
Experts team has recently returned from inspecting conditions in
Tanzania where they found the following alarming evidence:
- The Tanzanian elephant population has fallen by 24% (more than 33,000 elephants) between 2006 and 2009.
- The country has the highest level of involvement in illegal ivory trade in Africa.
- Corruption is said to involve officials in the Customs, Anti-poaching and Wildlife Departments.
- Prosecution rates are low and sentences inadequate deterrents to discourage poachers.
- Tanzania’s Elephant Population:
108,816 (definite) plus 27,937 (probable) in Tanzania (IUCN African
Elephant Specialist Group 2007), although given the findings of the
Panel of Experts (2010), the number is likely to be considerably lower
- Threats: Poaching, illegal trade, habitat destruction, human-elephant conflict and civil unrest.
a significant problem threatening populations in the country: a total
of 11,678kg of ivory seized in 2009 is reported to have originated in
Tanzania; in addition, DNA analysis has identified the Selous Ecosystem
in Tanzania (spilling over to Niassa Game Reserve in Mozambique) as the
source of 5.2 tons of ivory seized in Taiwan and 2.6 tons in Hong Kong
in 2006 (Wasser et al. 2009). .