Illegal ivory trade triples in past 15 years, UN says
The illegal trade in ivory has tripled over thepast 15 years, trafficked primarily by "Asian-run, African-based" criminal networks, a UN agency said Wednesday.
The UN Environmental Programme used the amount of ivory seized to determine that the illicit trade had doubled since 2007 and tripled since 1998 in its latest report on African elephant poaching.
The statistics were released as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species was being held in Bangkok. The convention estimated that about 25,000 African elephants were slain in 2011, with a similar death toll last year, fuelled primarily by growing demand for trinkets and tusks in increasingly affluent Asia.
The size of the seizures at Asian ports, some of which involved hundreds of tusks, points to the involvement of highly organised, well-financed criminal networks, the UN agency said.
"These largely Asian-run, African-based criminal networks operate with relative impunity as there is almost no evidence of successful arrests, prosecutions or convictions," it said.//DPA