Elephant poarching and gun running in East Africa has been influenced by China’s Infuence in the region, according to a report on U.K television.East Africa is made up of countries including Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Congo and Burundi.
A Channel 4 reporter spoke to people in villages and cities, wildlife managers, rangers, government officials, and illegal ivory sellers in Kenya and Tanzania—all of whom said China is the main buyer of banned ivory.
Filmed secretly, sellers told the journalist from Unreported World that during a presidential visit from Chinese Communist Party leader Hu Jintao in 2009, two hundred kilos of ivory was bought by Chinese diplomats and taken out of Tanzania.
The sellers did not say if He knew of the trade, but did say that a prominent diplomat from the Chinese Embassy frequently bought large amounts of ivory from them.
Kooky Gorman owns a wildlife park in Kenya. Accompanied by armed rangers, she took the reporter to many spots in her park, where elephant carcasses rotted, their heads split open to make it easy to saw the tusks off.
Many hides showed multiple bullet holes. The lead ranger said the killers had used AK47 automatic weapons to spray herds. The shootings were indiscriminate, killing young and old.
Gorman said the weapons were bought from neighboring Somalia where the civil war has continued since 1991.
The intensity of the poaching has been increasing for the past two years. In 2007 six elephants were poached from her park. In 2008, twenty-eight were poached. Fifty-seven were poached in 2009.
She says there is a threat of elephant extinction.
The Kenya Wildlife Service has strong rooms full of tusks and carved ivory taken during raids and confiscated at Nairobi airport. It has about 65 tons to 70 tons estimated at $10 million.
Another man, who did not want to be identified as he had received death threats, was a safari operator who brings tourists to the Selous Reserve. “I think the wildlife department knows exactly what’s going on here,” he said. “There are some members of the games department who are poaching to supplement their pay and feed their families.”
He said he thinks movers are coming from China and the Far East to take bones and that they are in collusion with local authorities.
He said they could not get through the 15 to 20 policed roadblocks without help from “some very well-placed people.”
One illegal dealer said he had friends in airport security. “It’s no problem with money,” he told the reporter. “If you have money, it’s easy.”
Africa Safari News