Flourishing Angolan Ivory Trade Worries Elephant Conservationists

The volume of elephant ivory available for sale in Angola has doubled over the last year or so, with over 1.5 tonnes of worked ivory products being sold in local markets.

This represents the tusks of at least 300 elephants. This is reported by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network that is jointly managed by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

Angola is the only African country with wild elephant populations that is not a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (Cites). The last survey of the country's elephants indicated a population of 250 animals. TRAFFIC reports that nearly three-quarters of the ivory vendors in Luanda, Angola were from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"The Angolan connection is a new, growing and worrying dimension in the illegal ivory trade as it currently exists beyond the reach of Cites," said Tom Milliken, director of TRAFFIC in east and southern Africa. PJ Stephenson, head of WWF's International's Africa Elephant Programme added, "Angola is clearly out of step with the rest of Africa, failing to join Cites and failing to support the continentwide action plan to shut down the very markets that drive elephant poaching today."

According to TRAFFIC, Angola and Mozambique have the largest illegal trades in elephant ivory in southern Africa. In the past Mozambique has flouted Cites regulations by selling ivory products in the duty-free departure lounge at the Maputo airport.

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