Tanzania is now considered to be the largest source of poached ivory in the world, with China being the largest importer of smuggled tusks.
Around 25 years ago, a poaching crisis in Tanzania led to the loss of over 50 percent of its elephant population. In 1989, Tanzania proposed a ban on all international ivory trade—a drastic move that largely succeeded for over a decade. By 2006, the elephant population in Tanzania had increased to about 142,788. However, criminality and corruption in the ivory trade has in recent years resurged, and Tanzania’s elephants are again being slaughtered in mass. The country lost around 10,000 elephants in 2013 alone, according to a new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency.
Today, Tanzania’s elephants are being poached to supply a growing demand in an illicit ivory market, mainly in China. More ivory flows out of Tanzania than any other country and this supply is consistently linked to criminal busts where massive stashes of ivory are recovered—in places including Hong Kong, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan. The alarming crisis is a result of organized criminal syndicates, often times led by Chinese nationals, and corruption in the Tanzania government.
The Environmental Agency is now urging for a zero-tolerance approach and an immediate on ivory trade, specifically in China.
Watch this short documentary released by EIA and read more of the new report: “Vanishing Point – Criminality, Corruption and the Devastation of Tanzania’s Elephants”