Police Officers In DRC Seize 1500 Kilograms Of Elephant Tusk

Authorities have discovered and seized about 1500 kilograms of elephant ivory from smugglers in the southeastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Tagged one of the largest hauls in Africa in years, legal and environmental officials said, Police officers, discovered the smuggled tusks aboard trucks in the city of Lubumbashi on Saturday, measuring up to 1.5 tonnes (1500 kilograms), and representing 80 to 100 slaughtered elephants.

Currently, five people are being investigated to determine the destination of the tusk, which experts speculate may be headed to China and Southeast Asia, said to be major markets for African ivory.

Despite the strict ban on the hunting and harvesting of elephant tusk, each year, authorities report an increasing number of seizures of African tusk by smugglers.

In 2013, Kenyan officials made several seizures including about 1000 kilograms of the contraband ivory tusk. In 2014, Togolese authorities said they seized about 4,000 kilograms of ivory in just one week.

In 2019, Vietnamese officials discovered over 9,000 kilograms of elephant ivory in a shipment carrying timber from the Republic of Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville, in the largest recent haul worldwide.

The population of elephants especially in Asia and Africa continue to significantly decrease due to illegal poaching and the high demand for ivory products.

Ivory is very valuable, so poachers illegally kill elephants for their tusks and sell them for thousands of dollars. Products that are made of ivory include piano keys and special types of furniture. Although the elephant population is declining predominantly in southern Africa, they are also declining in other parts of the continent, mainly in central Africa and parts of East Africa. 

According to reports on the population of elephants in Africa, an estimated 415,000 elephants live on the continent, while specific groups are being poached to oblivion. Asian elephant populations have also declined by at least 50% in the last three generations.

Patsy Nwogu

Reporting on data-driven featured stories and investigations.

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