Illicit and dangerous trafficking in wildlife: the African elephant on the red list of extinction

Posted on September 1, 2021

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https://www.vivafrik.com/2021/08/30/trafic-illicite-et-dangereux-despece-faunique-lelephant-dafrique-sur-la-liste-rouge-dextinction-a42296.html

The fight against the extinction of endangered wildlife continues. Forest elephants bear the brunt of destruction. To this end, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), revealed in its last report that the elephant although fully protected, still remains on the red list and that the forest elephant is in danger. critical because of the illicit and illegal trafficking of ivory. In Togo the threat is also real.

Indeed, the elephant, whether forest or savannah, is threatened with extinction because of poaching encouraged by the illicit trafficking of its tusks and the loss of its habitat by deforestation for the benefit of culture. According to the most recent estimates, the number of forest elephants has fallen by more than 86% in thirty years. Separated into two distinct species, the savannah and forest pachyderms are now classified as “endangered” and “critically endangered” respectively on the IUCN Red List.

One majestically crowds the savannah, an icon of the African continent. The other, more savage, prefers to remain hidden in the forest. For the first time, IUCN separates African elephants into two species: “endangered” savanna elephants and “critically endangered” forest elephants. According to the most recent estimates, the number of forest elephants has fallen by more than 86% in thirty years, and that of savannah elephants by at least 60% in the last fifty years. This globally alarming assessment, however, varies from region to region.

The elephant is very strongly affected by the development of agriculture, which encroaches on its place of life. Also, the animal is endangered by the exhaustion of certain water points and the scarcity of the fruits on which it feeds. For example, climate change has also caused fruit production to drop by 81% in thirty years in Lopé National Park, in central Gabon. As a result, “the body mass of elephants fell by 11% between 2008 and 2018,” WWF revealed.

Illicit ivory trafficking remains a major existential threat to the elephant, especially since the mammal’s life and reproduction cycle is slow. This is even more true for the forest elephant which lives longer than its savannah cousin. The fall in the number of specimens for both species has accelerated since 2008, when illegal trafficking for elephant tusks intensified, reaching its peak in 2011. And although the phenomenon has waned in intensity, it continues to threaten elephants, which puts the elephant on the red list. Fifty years ago, around 1.5 million elephants roamed across Africa, but the most recent census of large mammals only counted 415,000. What a disaster !

The pandemic is also having an impact on efforts to protect nature by depriving countries of tourism revenues that were used to partially finance these efforts. Yet African elephants play a key role in ecosystems, economies and in the collective imagination.

In Togo, although efforts are being made to protect endangered wildlife, the elephant also remains threatened with extinction. The elephant park is no longer attractive, but the country is a transit hub for the illegal transfer of ivory. Indeed, the Central Office for the Repression of Illicit Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering (OCTRIDB), the Research and Investigation Brigade (BRI) of Kara and the Ministry of the Environment and Forest Resources (MERF) in collaboration with EAGLE-Togo have recorded several cases of arrests and seizures of elephant tusks.

The most recent are the arrest operations of April and May, for which ten suspected traffickers operating in the illegal ivory trade were arrested in possession of more than fifteen elephant tusks in Lomé and Kara.

The new penal code in its environmental section strengthens the protection of flora and fauna. Article 761 of this code provides: “The destruction and commercialization, direct or indirect, without right of animal or plant species protected under the laws and regulations in force and international conventions to which the Republic of Togo is a party. punished by a penalty of one to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of one million to fifty million without prejudice to any other provision of this code ”. And, article 796 of this same code to add: “Whoever circulates, sells, imports, exports or makes transit wild animals, alive,trophies without authorization is punishable by imprisonment from one to six months and a fine of one hundred thousand to five hundred thousand CFA francs or one of these two penalties “But the protection of the elephant does not aim only at the preservation of the species. It contributes to biodiversity and the presence of habitats for other species, to the dispersal and germination of seeds for tree species, as well as to tourism. This is vital for rural people, whose jobs and livelihoods are linked to this sector and related sectors, such as food and transport, which are more sustainable and have greater growth potential. . (EAGLE-Togo)It contributes to biodiversity and the presence of habitats for other species, to the dispersal and germination of seeds for tree species, as well as to tourism. This is vital for rural people, whose jobs and livelihoods are linked to this sector and related sectors, such as food and transport, which are more sustainable and have greater growth potential. . (EAGLE-Togo)It contributes to biodiversity and the presence of habitats for other species, to the dispersal and germination of seeds for tree species, as well as to tourism. This is vital for rural people, whose jobs and livelihoods are linked to this sector and related sectors, such as food and transport, which are more sustainable and have greater growth potential. . (EAGLE-Togo)which are more sustainable and have greater growth potential. (EAGLE-Togo)which are more sustainable and have greater growth potential. (EAGLE-Togo)

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