December 29, 2011
2011 Was A ‘Horrible Year For Elephants’
Conservation group TRAFFIC said on Thursday that in the past 12 months a record number of large ivory seizures across the world have taken place.
TRAFFIC said that it has been a "horrible year for elephants" and there had been at least 13 large-scale seizures in 2011, totaling at least 23 tons of ivory.In 2010, there were just six large seizures, totaling just under 10 tons of ivory.
"In 23 years of compiling ivory seizure data for ETIS, this is the worst year ever for large ivory seizures -- 2011 has truly been a horrible year for elephants," Tom Milliken, TRAFFIC's elephant expert, said in a statement.
The group said once the details of hundreds of smaller ivory seizures were collated, "2011 could well prove to be the worst year ever for elephants" since the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) database was set up in 1989.
TRAFFIC said most of the illegal shipments of African elephant ivory will end up in China, where it is ground up and used in traditional medicine.
Milliken said the increasing quantities of ivory being traded reflect a rising demand in Asia as well as the increased sophistication of the criminal gangs who sell it.
The gangs constantly change their routes to Asia to avoid detection, including switching from air to sea freight.
"As most large-scale ivory seizures fail to result in any arrests, I fear the criminals are winning," Milliken said in a statement.
International trade in elephant ivory was banned in 1990, and ETIS holds the details of over 17,000 reported ivory and other elephant product seizures across the world since.
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