Expert Esmond Martin said that during a visit to Sudan last month, he found traders and artisans openly exhibiting new products. Martin, who presented his findings at a press conference in Kenya, said he and his team found 11,000 ivory products on display in 50 stores in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and its twin city of Omdurman. He also visited 150 ivory artisans who were making new products, including many jewelry. The fact that members of the Sudanese army are exchanging arms for ivory with the LRA raises questions about the highest levels of the Sudanese government. In 2009, Bashir became the world`s first sitting head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity. In presenting the case, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo highlighted Bashir`s control over the alleged groups behind the Sudanese ivory trade: “He used the army, he recruited the militias/Janjaweed. They all report to Him, they all obey Him. Its control is absolute. This is a photocopy of the diary of LRA Lt. Col. Vincent “Binany” Okumu, who defectors said was responsible for ivory hunting in Garamba National Park. Written in Acholi, it describes Kony`s order of a hundred elephant tusks. Ugandan forces killed Binany in 2013 and recovered the newspaper.
Like much of the world, George Dante knows that the African elephant is under siege. A burgeoning Chinese middle class with an insatiable taste for ivory, crippling poverty in Africa, weak and corrupt law enforcement, and more opportunities than ever to kill an elephant created a perfect storm. As a result, about 30,000 African elephants are slaughtered each year, including more than 100,000 between 2010 and 2012, and the pace of culls is not slowing down. Most illegal ivory goes to China, where a pair of ivory chopsticks can fetch more than a thousand dollars and carved tusks sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. This already volatile situation was plunged into crisis last October when Tanzania announced its proposal to legalize 101 tonnes of stockpiled ivory and sell it to Asian buyers – a move that would further boost ivory fashion and provide an even wider legal umbrella under which a growing amount of poached smuggled ivory could be laundered. It is clear that such an outcome would lead to more killings of elephants and rangers. The Tanzanian proposal was submitted to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the UN-administered treaty on endangered species, which has the power to make decisions on the legalization of ivory and other wildlife products. I will use his tusks to hunt down the people who kill elephants and to learn which routes follow his ivory plundering, which ports he leaves, on which ships he travels, which cities and countries he passes through and where he ends up. Will artificial defenses planted in a Central African country go east – or west – to a coastline with reliable transport to Asian markets? Will they go north, the most violent ivory route on the African continent? Or will they go nowhere, discovered before being moved and handed over by an honest person? Other roads also lead to Sudan. Relatives of Zakouma`s murdered forest ranger, Idriss Adou, pursued one of Sudan`s alleged Heban mountain poachers and arranged for his return to Chad for trial. Soumaine Abdoulaye Issa was in Darfur, he told a team of African Parks investigators, when he heard about an elephant poaching mission in Chad led by a member of the Sudanese armed forces.
Issa, who is Chader, said he joined the team of three Sudanese men and they rode together for more than two weeks to get to Heban, where they killed nine elephants in four days. After Zakouma`s rangers destroyed their camp and confiscated their equipment, the poachers were unable to return to Sudan, so three weeks later they returned to Heban Hill and attacked the Hippotrague unit. But America must also look inward. There is an illegal ivory trade in the United States, and there is a legal ivory trade. Since it`s so easy to disguise the illegal as legal, isn`t it time to simplify things and make it illegal to sell ivory? Forest rangers practice their riding skills in Chad`s Zakouma National Park. The park has four mounted ranger teams, as horses are the only way to patrol effectively during the rainy season, when elephants travel to drier land outside the park. A spokeswoman for TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, said Martin`s work confirmed his suspicions about Sudan, where a civil war had just ended, and was similar to his findings elsewhere in Africa. Spokeswoman Maija Sirola said TRAFFIC would likely include Martin`s work when he updates his own reviews. After visiting Garamba, I arrange to meet with a confidential source to put my defenses on the black market near Mboki, a small village in the Central African Republic halfway between Garamba and Sudan, which has been the target of attacks by Kony`s army and where some people have fled Kony Haven`t found safety.
According to data stored in a GPS device removed from the body of LRA commander Vincent “Binany” Okumu, who was killed in an exchange of fire with African Union forces in 2013 while returning from poaching in Garamba, the village is on the ivory path to the Kony base in Darfur.