Tanzanian authorities have seized as many as 1,041 elephant tusks on the island of Zanzibar, in the largest ivory haul in a year, reports say.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said the ivory shipment originated in Dar-es-Salaam and was destined for Malaysia. The tusks were hidden among tins of anchovies, with the smell intended to disguise the presence of the ivory, the organization said in its Web site.
“At a certain point you stop saying these seizures are alarming or surprising and accept them as a grim and inevitable reminder that we are losing the war against wildlife trafficking,” said James Isiche, IFAW East Africa Director.
IFAW said according to a recent investigation of ivory sales in Guanghzou, China, the estimated value of ivory was $750 per kilogram. Assuming an average weight of five kilograms per tusk this seizure represents an estimated value of almost US$4-million.
However, IFAW says the impact of large-scale elephant slaughter on African elephant populations is of more importance than the value of the latest ivory haul.
“While we gather to discuss combating the ivory trade elephants continue to be killed for their ivory, IFAW’s Wildlife Trade Program Director Kelvin Alie said at a gathering of 27 wildlife law enforcement officials from 11 Southern African countries in Gaborone, Botswana.
IFAW says thousands of ivory tusks have already been seized in 2011. Some of the larger seizures include an April 1st seizure when Thai officials discovered 247 tusks hidden in a shipment from Kenya.
Two weeks later, Vietnamese officials seized 122 elephant tusks and, a day after, Chinese officials uncovered 707 elephant tusks during a routine inspection.
In early May, Kenyan authorities uncovered 84 elephant tusks at Nairobi airport.
“We need a global outcry to spur investment in creating the necessary wildlife law enforcement capacity to take on the international criminal syndicates who benefit from these massacres,” said Isiche.
“What elephant range states now need is the commitment of the international community to financially support these highly skilled and motivated trainees to be able to meet the task of protecting elephants and stop the legal trade in ivory which facilitates poaching and illegal trade,” Alie added.