Illegal Ivory Still Egyptian Problem
February 7, 2012 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
CAIRO, Feb. 6 (UPI) — Egypt is home to ongoing illegal trading in ivory with products sold in local tourist areas by traders who are seldom prosecuted, a wildlife group says.
The animal conservation group Traffic says while the volume of trading in elephant ivory has declined slightly over the last 10 years, Egypt is still a major hub and distribution point in the global ivory trade.
“Egypt is one of the largest illegal markets for elephant ivory in Africa,” the study published in Traffic’s journal reported. “Tusks are smuggled in, mostly through Sudan, and sold to ivory workshops in Cairo … [where they are] openly carved and displayed without any prosecution ensuing.”
Trade in ivory was banned in 1990, and it is illegal to import, export or possess ivory products, or to offer them for sale in Egypt.
“The trade in ivory [in Egypt] is completely illegal without a permit, which has never been given,” endangered wildlife consultant Esmond Martin, the lead author of the report, told Inter Press Service. “Unfortunately, there is absolutely no law enforcement.”
“Traders, usually Sudanese, bring their ivory directly to workshops and retail outlets, and sell according to the weight and quality of the tusks,” the report said, noting large tusks could bring more than $160 a pound.
A decade ago, the study said, the biggest buyers of ivory in Egypt were Europeans, but that has changed. Now there’s a new consumer with money to spend and a desire for carved ivory — the Chinese.
“In 2005, the Chinese were hardly buying any ivory. Now they account for over half of all sales,” Martin said.