14 March 2016
Born Free welcomes news that Malawi has today burned 2.6 tonnes (781 pieces) of ivory.
Our partners, the Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, who were present at the burn explained a little about the background to this specific case: “In 2013, two ivory traffickers, Patrick and Chauncy Kaunda, were intercepted in Mzuzu by the Malawi Revenue Authority with 781 tusks hidden under cargo at the bottom of a container. On 28th July 2015, the High Court in Mzuzu found the Kaundas guilty of money laundering and possessing ivory, fined them MK2.5 million/$5,000 each or a 7 year prison sentence, and ordered the destruction of the contraband ivory”.
The presence of ivory in legal or illegal markets, and the maintenance of ivory stockpiles, further stimulates demand due to its historical connection with status and wealth. Born Free has therefore long been calling for the destruction of stockpiles and confiscated ivory. In our view, removing ivory from any possible commercial use together with a comprehensive worldwide moratorium on the domestic sale of ivory are key tools in combatting the demand that is driving the current elephant poaching crisis.
The first symbolic ivory stockpile burn took place in Kenya in July 1989, the year before the international ivory trade ban came into force, in response to the loss of more than half of Africa’s elephants over the previous 10 years. In the last few years more and more governments including the USA, France, The Republic of Congo, China and Hong Kong have also destroyed stockpiles of ivory, soon to be joined, again, by Kenya which will destroy its entire stockpile, amounting to a massive 120 tonnes on 30th April. These actions help to highlight this crisis to an international audience.
Elephants are important ecosystem engineers, spreading seeds and maintaining our tropical forests which store carbon, generate rainfall and stabilise our climate. The loss of elephants not only represents a huge failing in our stewardship of this planet, but could also prove disastrous for future generations, who will be affected by the consequences of their absence.
For more information about the ivory trade please visit: www.bloodyivory.org