The alleged smuggler of the 564 kg of ivory is facing a sentence of up to two years in prison, which is clearly not a significant punishment considering the economic and environmental impact of his traffic.Today, numerous media outlets reported the seizure of 564 kilos of smuggled ivory in Vienna.

The Austrian police discovered the ivory wrapped in a blanket in two apartments in the city, following the arrest of a man who was trying to sell three elephant tusks on the streets of the Capital. The man, who is a former boxer, may be sentenced up to two years in prison, which is clearly not a significant punishment considering the economic and environmental impact of his traffic.

Indeed, elephant poaching is a plague: Elephants are being hunted for their ivory and more than 20,000 animals were killed annually between 2007 and 2014. The latest Great Elephant Census, published in August 2016, estimates that there are 30 percent less (144,000) elephants in seven years since the last census.

 

 

This latest seizure underlines once more that the European Union and its members states have a key role in the transit and smuggling of ivory to Asia.

This is also confirmed by other recent large seizures, of 1.2 tonnes in Germany and more than 600 kg in France and the data provided by the Hong Kong Government that show significant imports of pre-Convention ivory from the European Union to Hong Kong, with a total tonnage of more than 7 tonnes. Moreover, the number of worked ivory pieces entering Hong Kong shot up by a dramatic 685 percent. In 2014, the total number of worked ivory pieces entering Hong Kong from the European Union was 1,572 pieces, but this jumped dramatically to 10,761 worked ivory pieces in 2015 in particular from Spain, Italy, Belgium, France and UK, according to the Hong Kong Government Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD).

In light of the Commission’s Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking published last February and the Council of the European Union conclusions from June 2016, the EU needs to implement without further delay strong measures to put a halt to commercial trade in elephant ivory and to review the effectiveness of the criminal sanctions applicable to wildlife trafficking throughout the EU.

–EP

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Article source: IFAW

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