EDITORIAL: Curbing corruption only cure for illegal wildlife trade

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) sitting in Arusha has added its voice in the fight against poaching. The region has been used as a conduit for illegal game trophies for many years. But it has also contributed to the trade that has been taken over by organised crime syndicates.

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) sitting in Arusha has added its voice in the fight against poaching.

The region has been used as a conduit for illegal game trophies for many years. But it has also contributed to the trade that has been taken over by organised crime syndicates.

 

Wildlife poaching is a serious matter but very lucrative. Africa Wildlife Foundation (AWF) says rhino horn is so much in demand; it goes for US$ 30,000 a pound when a pound of gold is approximately US$22,000.

 

Early this year, Kenya burned over 100 tonnes of Ivory and over a tonne of rhino horn seized from poachers. That was a world record burn but it represented 6,500 elephants and 450 rhinos killed.

 

Rwanda did its part when, a few days ago, it also set ablaze 88 kilos of ivory seized from smugglers who wanted to use the country as a conduit.

So, EALA is asking member states to come up with common strategies and enact stricter laws that carry heavy penalties to curb the trade. But is that enough to deal a blow to the trade?

As long as corruption is not rooted out of our society and governments put more resources into the fight, poaching will remain endemic.

How does one explain a situation where containers full of tusks and rhino horn are impounded on an outgoing ship? How did they get on board in the first place if they did not have the blessings of high ranking port and security officials?

By the way, the Kenyan ivory burning represented just 5 per cent of stockpiles held by African governments, according to AWF.

Why are the governments still holding on to them?

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