It all counts

While Kenya prepares to destroy a staggering 130,000 tonnes of ivory, which may equate to over 14,000 dead elephants (1.8 tusks per elephant and 5kg average tusk weight), a major seizure at Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 is also significant.

The 110kg of ivory, abandoned by a passenger hailing from Angola, was intercepted by HM Border Force and National Crime Agency and is one of the largest seizures made in the UK in recent times.

As is usual practice, rather than be destroyed, the ivory is likely to be donated to dental teaching facilities as the UK does not have an ivory stockpile, as such. There is no chance that it will end up in the market place.

In the eyes of some people, the destruction of ivory is controversial. They argue that the ivory could be sold and the funds raised ploughed back into elephant protection and conservation.

Those who oppose any selling of ivory – and I am one of them – believe that any commercial sale of ivory would perpetuate the notion that ivory is a desirable, valuable ‘product’ and, as such, it is worth killing elephants for.

The auditing and destruction of ivory stockpiles has been a phenomenon of recent times with conflagrations taking place in Gabon, Ethiopia and Kenya, and ivory crushes in Hong Kong, the US, France,the Philippines and elsewhere. Countries such as Malawi have promised to destroy their ivory stocks but the process has stalled for reasons that are not entirely clear.

In 2014, Born Free conducted its own ‘ivory crush’, pulverising ivory items that had been donated to us by individuals who wanted to take ivory our of circulation.

With the recently announced news that China and the USA will end virtually all domestic sales of ivory within the coming year, it seems moves to globally end the commercial sale of ivory, or ‘white gold’ are coming to fruition.

Now we look expectantly to the EU and countries such as Thailand to take a stand and shut the markets once and for all.

The only place that ivory looks good – is on an elephant!

Well done to the Border Agency and the National Crime Agency for uncovering and foiling yet another wildlife crime.

My only disappointment is that we still don’t know if the National Wildlife Crime Unit has a future beyond 2016. Austerity measures mean that the future of the Unit is in doubt.  How can we call on developing countries to do more to protect elephants and defeat poachers when the very existence of our own specialist wildlife crime team hangs in the balance? Ggrrrrr!

Blogging off!


One Response to “It all counts”

  1. Gill Gilbey Says:

    Dear Will,
    I would like to know how Kenya has accumulated such a staggering amount of ivory.Kenya must have questions to be answered.
    You don’t make it clear as to the circumstances of confiscating the ivory at Heathrow.How and where was the ivory abandoned exactly?If they know it was a passenger from Angola have they taken measures to apprehend him and follow his trail to get answers to trafficking,surely that is what we would expect from the National Crime Agency if they are doing the job.
    I hope that both the USA and China will be held to account to end domestic ivory trade ,although it is far from clear what will happen in practise.It will only be when we see a considerable drop in the deaths of Elephants that we will know something is working.
    The EU(and GB) has a poor record on wildlife crime.NOT to have stopped import of trophies is nothing short of a disgrace.Excepting France who has.I feel Thailand is probably greatly influenced by China with regard to the ivory trade.
    And I have to say that confiscating ivory is not stopping the crime,only prevention can do that,the elephants have not been saved.