When wildlife officers in Zimbabwe National Park in Africa starting finding hundred of elephants dead from cyanide poisoning, they soon realized that poachers in search of ivory were likely to blame. African elephants populations became extremely small in the early 90's because so many were hunted and killed for their ivory.
A 34-year-old Chinese man was arrested at the Harare International Airport for illegal possession of ivory. According to reports, the man had over 20 pieces of ivory in his possession.
"An Asian national was today arrested at the Harare International Airport for illegal possession of ivory," Washaya-Moyo said in a statement"He was found with 17 raw pieces of ivory and several of worked ivory, which included bangles, chop sticks and beads weighing 113.9 kilograms."
People living in Asia and the Middle East believe that ivory has special benefits and often use it for decorations, home remedies and even good luck.The international ivory trade has been illegal since 1989, but many smugglers still manage to transport ivory in and out of various countries# In the ten years preceding the international ban in the trade in ivory in 1990 the African elephant population was more than halved from 1.3 million to around 600,000.
Twelve other people have been arrested on similar charges and in the poisoning of elephants within the park. The value of ivory is high in many parts of the world. Wildlife experts estimate that the illegal international ivory trade is worth up to $10 billion a year.
Just last week, authorities in Uganda seized around two tons of ivory from illegal poaching of elephants, one of the country's biggest such hauls in many years. If the poaching and illegal slaughtering of African elephants continues, the species could so another decline in their numbers and may even become extinct in the near future.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.