Ivory dealers as bad as drug runners: UN
22 February 2013
NAIROBI: Smuggled ivory should be treated like heroin or cocaine if law-enforcement agencies hope to catch the criminal masterminds, according to the head of the UN body regulating trade in endangered species.
``We need to start deploying the same tactics that we use to fight narcotics,'' said John Scanlon, secretary-general of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
``Don't just seize it in the port when you find it. Track it, find out who ordered it, find them, convict them and give them heavy penalties.''
Ivory trading was banned in 1989, when elephant poaching was out of control, but CITES authorised a series of one-off sales from government stockpiles in 2008, which conservationists blamed for reinvigorating the market.
``We are experiencing the worst spike in elephant poaching that we have seen for several decades,'' Mr Scanlon said. Up to 25,000 elephants are thought to have been poached last year.
Most ivory smuggled through Kenya is destined for Asia.