A monthly update on press coverage of the international illegal ivory trade. 

This month’s seizure figures represent at least 309 dead elephants, not including 1,210 whole tusks and pieces, bringing the total for this year to at least 4,340

3rd December – Mombasa Port, Kenya 
The Kenya Wildlife Service seizes 465 pieces and whole tusks of ivory packed in cartons and crates declared as soapstone handicrafts and destined for Cambodia. Uganda, Tanzania and possibly Zimbabwe are suspected potential source countries of the haul. Full report

10th December – Chuka town, Tharaka-Nithi district, Kenya
Two large elephant tusks are seized and a man arrested. Full report

12th December – nr Lobeke National Park, Cameroon
In an area recently witnessing increased elephant poaching, 44 tusks weighing over 100kg are seized from trucks transporting cocoa and 4 arrests made, not far from where in September gorilla poachers shot, beat and killed a forest ranger in what is believed to be a trend in increasing brutality by poachers in response to improved enforcement efforts in the area. Full report

13th December - Port Klang, Malaysia
Approximately 1.4 tonnes of ivory is seized by customs officials. Being processed by the same agent as the container from the 3rd December seizure, the container in this case had also been shipped from Mombasa Port, labeled as soapstone handicrafts and been destined for Cambodia. Full reports

Mid December – O.R. Tambo International Airport, South Africa
Two Vietnamese nationals are arrested in possession of luggage containing 2 rhino horns, 5 elephant tusks, 20 ivory chopsticks, 31 ivory bangles, 18 ivory ‘blocks’ and three ivory earrings. Full report

20th December – Table View, Cape Town, South Africa
Acting on a tip-off, police raid an apartment, seizing 20 elephant tusks and arresting two Chinese nationals. Full report

21st December – Mombasa Port, Kenya
Wildlife and Revenue authorities inspect another container, this time bound for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, to find 727 ivory pieces and whole tusks wrapped in bags stuffed with plastic. The exporter in this case is the same as the one from the 3rd December seizure, again highlighting the vital importance of effectively gathering and using intelligence on criminal networks involved in the illegal ivory trade. Full reports

28th December - Jinghong, Yunnan Province, China
Police seize 93 "ivory products" from four stores in a city close to the Laos, Burma and Vietnam borders, a region which supports the majority of China's Asian elephants. Full report

Late December – Cape Town, South Africa
Following a tip-off to the police, two Chinese nationals are arrested following the discovery of elephant tusks being processed for jewellery. Fifteen whole and an undisclosed number of cut tusks are seized. Full report

29th December – Cambridge, UK
The wildlife trade monitoring organization TRAFFIC issues a press release highlighting 2011 as “annus horribilis” (a horrible year) for the African elephant, with a record number of large seizures around the world illustrating another spike in the continuing trend of an increasing trade in illegal ivory. At least 23 tonnes are attributed to the 13 largest seizures (defined as ones over 800kg in weight), the highest number since the organisation began compiling such data in 1989, the year a ban on trade in ivory was instituted. The increasing number of large ivory seizures reflects the increasing sophistication of the international criminal syndicates involved, with the majority of such seizures failing to result in any arrests. Most large shipments of African elephant ivory are destined for China and Thailand, where the largest markets for such products exist.


African elephant poaching news this month includes reports of increasing threats to the elephants in Uganda's national parks and a report of 77 elephants having been poached from Niassa Reserve in Mozambique this year , 25 more elephants than reported last month


END OF YEAR REPORT: Over the course of 2011, customs, police and wildlife officials around the world have seized more than 28.3 tonnes of illegal ivory. This figure does not include the 1,210 combined pieces and whole tusks, 827 carvings, 778 chopsticks and 166 bracelets also seized.


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