Report Says Chinese Officials Bought Ivory in Tanzania
An environmental group says people traveling with China’s President loadedan airplane with illegal ivory during a state visit to Tanzania last year. TheEnvironmental Investigation Agency, EIA, reported the finding.
The illegal ivory trade has harmed elephant populations in Tanzania and otherAfrican countries. The purpose of the unlawful trade is to meet a growingdemand for ivory in Asia.
The EIA report says a group traveling with Chinese President Xi Jinpingbought a large amount of ivory in Tanzania last year. The report says theamount was so big that prices for the elephanttusks increased by 100percent. It says the price rose to $700 per kilogram.
The EIA reported that the tusks were flown to China on the president’sairplane. In a video released by the group, a Tanzanian ivory dealerdiscusses the Chinese agreement with an investigator who was working insecret to collect information.
The trader gets the Chinese president’s name wrong. He says, “Mr. Ping…”
The investigator corrects him. “Jinping..” The trader then mentionsan illegalagreement.
Trader: (The president), when he was here – many kilos (kilograms) go out.Many kilos go out. Half of his plane goes to that business.”
The trader says he knows this is true because the Chinese buy ivory fromdealers in Tanzania. The EIA report says the nation is the biggest source ofillegal ivory seized around the world.
Ivory trafficking – the illegal trade – follows established traderoutes. It usuallybegins in the country’s own reserves, or wildlife areas, that are supposed to be protected.
Tanzania’s Selous Reserve is among parks where poachers carry outattacks. These hunters kill the animals inside the parks. The ivory then iscollected in villages and taken to the port of Dar es Salaam. The material isshipped to Asia. Finally, in China, people cut and shape the ivory and sell it as a decoration.
EIA wildlife campaigner Shruti Suresh says all these activities would beimpossible if Tanzanian officials did not cooperate.
“Because of the scale (size) of this, and seeing that there are several tons ofivory going through government posts, past government officials, it is clearthat this corruption permeates through the highest levels of government.”
The EIA says Tanzania has lost two-thirds of its elephants since 2006, mostlyby poaching. In that time, the number of elephants in the Selous Reserve hasfallen from 70,000 to just 13,000 in 2013.
Shruti Suresh describes the shrinking population as “dire in the extreme”.
“It’s quite shocking. And if we don’t stop this rate of decline (decrease), wereally don’t know if Tanzania will have elephants in the near future.”
China has promised to take steps against ivory trafficking. Officials in onecity, Guangzhou, crushed more than six tons of ivory early this year to showtheir desire to correct the situation. African countries struck hard by poachingsent representatives to the event.
Young Technology Expert Works to Stop Car Thefts
Kenya is East Africa’s largest economy. Its capitalNairobi is growing quickly. But so is the city’s crimerate -- the Nairobi Metropolitan Crime Observatorysays thieves steal an average of 10 cars each day.
Kelvin Macharia has invented a tracking, or following,device that uses computers and wireless technology tohelp owners know where their cars are, and find them ifthey are stolen. Mr. Macharia is just 24 years old. He is the chief executiveofficer of Sunrise Tracking.
He began working on his invention in 2012. Using $300 from his savings, heimproved a system that was already being used to find stolen cars. Hissurveillance system uses a computer or mobile phone to tell owners wheretheir car is. Mr. Macharia says if a car is stolen, the owners can find it usinghis tracking device. Owners are able to send a command to the vehiclethrough a text message. It immediately stops the car from moving. Expertssay this shows the power of security solutions that involve mobiletechnology.
Mr. Macharia used material available in Kenya to make his first trackerdevices. When he was satisfied with the design, he outsourced the buildingof the device to a factory in China. He says his company is now worth morethan $100,000 and has more than 100 companies as clients.
Tony Wanga is one of those clients. He owns three minibus taxis. Car thievesin Nairobi have targeted these vehicles. Mr. Wanga bought trackers for eachof his vehicles. The trackers cost $250 each. He says the tracker tells himwhere his vehicles are. He says when the tracker is placed in one of hisvehicles, he can follow its travels as he sits in his office.
Mr. Macharia continues to develop other security products. His other securityproducts include car alarms and a camera hidden inside a pen. And he sayshe is building a wireless security camera that will be able to store videoinformation for long periods of time.
Mr. Macharia hopes his technological innovations give his clients thesecurity and safety they want and need.