East African region has become a popular transit route for illegal ivory traders. A number of people have been apprehended over involvement in illicit ivory trade within the region.
Rwanda National Police (RNP) is holding 10 people including four Guinea-Conakry nationals, over trying to traffic 80 kilogrammes of elephant tusks through the country while in neighbouring Uganda, 740kgs of Ivory were impounded by Uganda Aviation Police at Entebbe Airport, last year. In April this year, Kenya burnt 105 tones of ivory confiscated from illegal smugglers.
These are among the many examples that show the worrying magnitude of illegal ivory trade in the region, and the threat it poses to the region's wildlife.
Illegal ivory trade has led to increase in poaching for elephant tusks, forcing conservationists to call for more efforts to save the elephant. With the East African region being home to endangered wildlife including elephants, urgent measures should be taken to address the problem.
The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has raised a red flag over the issue in a yet to be released report by the standing Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Wildlife. The report shows a disturbing wave of ivory smuggling in the East African region.
This calls for more regional efforts to curtail the crime, despite some progress following the first-ever regional anti-illicit trade conference held in 2010.
But more importantly, it also calls for a global partnership to involve the destination countries for the smuggled ivory. Reports indicate that three-quarters of illegal ivory makes its way to China. Deliberate global efforts can go a long way in stopping the illegal trade in ivory.
An intensified global crackdown on criminal gangs that reportedly conspire with corrupt regional bureaucrats to traffic vast quantities of ivory will deliver victory against this crime.