Sudan army accused of ivory trade

Sudan's army has illegally slaughtered thousands of elephants and exported the ivory to China where it is made into chopsticks, conservationist Esmond Martin said on Monday after a survey.

    The military is accused of being a key player in the ivory trade

    Ivory from southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic makes its way to dealers in Khartoum and Cairo, said Martin, who is based in Kenya.

    Martin said a 20-year civil war in southern Sudan had made it difficult to determine exact elephant numbers, but figures available indicate that the numbers fell to 40,000 in 1992 from 133,000 in 1976.

    "Every trader we talked to said the Sudanese national army has been doing the killing, they possess the necessary firearms and ammunition. They also have access to government transport to move tusks to Khartoum and Omdurman," Martin told a news conference in Nairobi.

    Chinese demand

    A Sudan armed forces spokesman declined to comment on the reports.

    Martin said three quarters of the illegal ivory was made into chopsticks and other items and sold to Chinese nationals, thousands of whom have moved into Sudan to work in the petroleum, construction and mining sectors.

    "Every trader we talked to said the Sudanese national army has been doing the killing"

    Conservationist Esmond Martin

    China has been the largest importer of illegal tusks since the mid 1990's, despite a ban on ivory trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1990.

    "The driving force behind these elephant killings especially in the recent past is directly linked to the activities of the Chinese. Not restricted to Chinese expatriates in Sudan they extend to traders in China who buy these tusks and encourage the trade," he said.

    Martin said prices for ivory in Khartoum and Omdurman, a city across the River Nile from Khartoum, were between $44-$148 per kg compared to $15.50-$43.60 per kg in 1997 due to an increase in demand.

    CITES ban

    Sale of ivory items in Sudan is legal provided the shopkeeper has a government licence and the items are carved from ivory obtained before the CITES ban, but Martin said he counted over 11,000 items made from post-CITES ivory in souvenir shops in Khartoum.

    Ivory items such as walking sticks and daggers are also in demand in South Korea, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, he said.

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.