Congo Ivory Burn Could Be Turning Point in Fight Against Wildlife Trafficking

The Congo ivory burn comes on the heels of the International Conference on Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa. Photo by Emma Stokes ©WCS.

By John Robinson

Today the Republic of Congo burned its confiscated hardwood timber and the country’s entire stockpile of illegal ivory. With the destruction of 4.7 million metric tons of ivory, the Congo joins a growing list of countries opting to burn or crush ivory stockpiles as a means of sending a global message on the plight of elephants and a warning to would-be traffickers

Fittingly, the ivory burn coincides with the conclusion of the International Conference on Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa. Hosted by Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso and spread over four days, this first-ever Africa-wide event brought together a wide range of leaders in conservation and government to develop a strategy to put an end to wildlife trafficking in fauna and flora across the continent – a problem that threatens the world’s natural heritage.

The Congo ivory burn comes on the heels of the International Conference on Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa. Photo by Emma Stokes ©WCS.

The Congo government’s actions today will remove the possibility of its ivory serving an economic use. Equally important, they coincide with implementation of a new system for recording and managing illegal ivory.

Congolese officials can now track its ivory inventory with a new tablet technology that helps track the chain of custody from the location of its seizure to the central depot in Brazzaville and finally to the burn site. This technology is currently being used to document new confiscations in two of the country’s most prized natural treasures: Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park and Odzala-Kokoua National Park.

In the Republic of Congo’s Conkouati-Douli park, protective measures have Led to elephant numbers expanding by as much as 50 percent since 2010. Photo by Hilde VanLeeuwe © WCS.

On another front, the Republic of Congo is working —> Read More

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