Corruption has helped make West and Central Africa the epicenter of ivory and pangolin trafficking to Asia – YubaNet
London, December 7, 2020 – On the eve of the United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day (December 09), our latest report reveals that West and Central Africa have become centers of supply and major exports for the illegal trafficking of elephant ivory and pangolin scales to Asia. .
Outside Africa: How West and Central Africa Became the Epicenter of Ivory and Pangolin Scale Trafficking to Asia explains how endemic corruption, weak or absent rule of law, low levels of development and hotbeds of armed conflict have left the region largely open to exploitation by well-organized transnational criminal gangs.
Since 2015, Nigeria has become the main global exit point for ivory and pangolin scales trafficked from Africa to Asia. Over the past five years, he has been implicated in global seizures of more than 30 tonnes of ivory and 167 tonnes of pangolin scales, the equivalent of at least 4,400 elephants and several hundred thousand of pangolins.
At a time when the world grapples with the crippling impacts of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, such a large wildlife trade poses a serious risk of the spread of zoonotic diseases – those from animals – such as COVID-19 .
Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) and Nigeria are affected by some of the highest levels of organized crime on the African continent; all three have well-established criminal networks involved in the trafficking of wildlife, humans, drugs, minerals, timber and weapons.
Shruti Suresh, Senior Wildlife Campaigner at EIA, said: “Given the challenges of crime and corruption in several parts of West and Central Africa, we must act now before may elephants, pangolins and other wildlife not disappear forever from this part of the world.
“Governments in the region urgently need to tackle corruption, lack of political will to tackle wildlife crime, poor law enforcement – especially at porous borders and entry / exit ports – as well as the role of foreign nationals involved in wildlife crime operating in this region.
The main shipping companies identified as contraband wildlife carriers are Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, and Pacific International Lines; airlines include Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines and Emirates Airlines, making it clear that strong collaboration between the public and private sectors is essential to turn the tide against wildlife crime.
In addition to documenting the enormous volumes of ivory and pangolin scales smuggled from Africa to Asia, Outside of Africa identifies Nigeria as a country of high concern and lays bare the complex structure of wildlife trafficking and the roles played by rogue clearing agents, freight forwarders and other key players who enable industrial scale ivory trafficking and pangolin scales from Africa.
Poachers and suppliers from major source countries – including Cameroon, Central African Republic, DR Congo, Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Liberia – secure ivory and pangolin scales before transport agents fail. organize shipping to Nigeria.
Once in Nigeria, traders work closely with shipping agents to clear export shipments through major hubs, including the Apapa Seaport and Lagos Airport, often choosing to use drop-off locations. transshipment such as Malaysia and Singapore to “break the road” and bypass detection.
Repacking and switching of bills of lading can take place through customs clearance agents during transit before transport to Vietnam and China by air, sea or land.
Fraudulent shipping documents are used to conceal what is actually being transported; pangolin scales and ivory were exported under the guise of frozen beef, auto parts, seeds, cashews and ginger, while ivory was smuggled in timber shipments and even hidden in hollowed-out wood.
Along the trafficking routes, corrupt officials at airports and seaports play a key role, accepting bribes to turn a blind eye and ensure the smooth passage of contraband across borders.