DNA sampling has tracked ivory shipments back to Kenya, Uganda, and Togo, a recent report from Science Advances said.
To the dismay of animal conservationists, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) announced it was removing five countries from the illegal ivory trade monitor Tuesday.
From its 70 Convention in Russia, the commission of flora and fauna conservation stated that due to significant progress to discourage regional poaching, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Thailand, and the Philippines would be exempt from the reports on illegal trade.
However, the World Wildlife Fund Organization (WWF) immediately denounced the decision as undermining the international movement to eradicate illegal ivory trade.
"Kenya and Tanzania are still major exit points for illegal ivory leaving Africa, while China's recent domestic ivory trade ban has yet to yield sufficient results on the ground to reassure observers that they are adequately addressing their role as the largest consumer market," WWF said.
According to WWF policy manager Colman Criodain, national ivory seizures are not being accurately charted or reported by country officials.
A study published last month the literary journal, Science Advances, Author Samuel Wasser named Kenya is one of the top three African countries linked to ivory trafficking. DNA sampling has tracked ivory shipments back to Uganda, Togo, and Kenya.
The multibillion-dollar industry causes the death of up to 40,000 elephants per year.
In the case study Wasser, the head of the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology, explains that many transnational organized criminals begin their careers in this field due to the low-risks and potential for high return.
“We think there may be investors buying these large whole tusks and keeping them, thinking they may become marketable again...Maybe they think elephants will go extinct, and by stockpiling, they are essentially hoarding a potentially highly valuable investment,” Wasser said.
A report from the Kenya-based wildlife group, Save the Elephants showed that illegal trafficking is growing via the “Golden Triangle” where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong Rivers, south of China.
Myanmar has the world’s largest population of captive elephants, 5,000 in all, but trade in tusks at Mong La and elsewhere increasingly comes from elephants of African origin, the report said.