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African carnage -- 1 year's seized ivory likely came from 23,000 elephants

internationally, stockpiles that were supposed to have existed before the international ban took effect in 1989. But the application said only 135 elephants were known to have been killed illegally in Zambia in the previous 10 years, far fewer than would have had to be slaughtered to produce the ivory in just the single seizure in 2002.

The paper's co-authors are Matthew Stephens, formerly of the UW and now at the University of Chicago; Celia Mailand and Rebecca Booth of the UW; Benezeth Mutayoba of the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania; Emily Kisamo of the Lusaka Agreement Task Force in Kenya; and Bill Clark of the Interpol Working Group on Wildlife Crime and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The work was funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service African Elephant Conservation Fund, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Center for Conservation Biology.

The authors wonder how a poor nation such as Zambia, with only slight international assistance, can fend off organized criminals fueled by the booming Far East economy, and they argue that Western nations must resume efforts to halt ivory trafficking. They note that western nations contributed heavily to enforcement efforts when the international ban took effect in 1989, and in the next four years poaching was virtually eliminated. But the success apparently left a sense that the problem was solved and the nations withdrew their funding.

Wasser and colleagues want to see reinstatement of strong enforcement, and also want to see education programs established to teach people in Africa to better manage their wildlife and persuade people in Asia not to use ivory, much of which is obtained illegally.

"If people really realized what is happening they would be ashamed to be part of the crisis," he said. "We don't want to spend our time catching criminals, we want to stop the crime from happening. That's the mo
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Contact: Vince Stricherz
vinces@u.washington.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
26-Feb-2007


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