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Friday, 11 October, 2002, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Ivory sales threaten African elephants
Zimbabwe ivory auction
Southern African has huge ivory stockpiles

Leading conservationists in Kenya have warned of a looming catastrophe for Africa's elephant if the international ban on the ivory trade is relaxed.

Ivory trade
Elephants threatened in East Africa
Large numbers in southern Africa
Ivory prized in Asia
Five Southern African nations with large elephant populations want the ban to be lifted to allow a limited sell-off of their ivory.

Their proposal will be discussed at an international convention on endangered species next month.

The head of Kenya's wildlife service, Joseph Kioko, said relaxing the ivory ban would be like opening a Pandora's Box.

Poaching

After a decade of relative quiet the spectre of mass poaching is once again haunting Kenya.

At least 80 elephants have been slaughtered this year.

Ivory on sale in Bangkok
Ivory products are openly on sale in Thailand
Poachers equipped with AK-47s and hacksaws chop off the tusks and leave the carcasses to rot in the sun.

Kenya's conservationists claim the increase in poaching is linked to attempts to ease the international ivory ban.

Five Southern African nations say they have too many elephants.

They want to be allowed to sell a limited amount of ivory illegally.

But before the 1990 ban 3,000 elephants a year were being poached in Kenya.

The herds are recovering but slowly.

Kenya's wildlife experts say if the trade is reopened it would be catastrophic.

Elephants herds would be decimated as illegal ivory smuggling booms.

See also:

04 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
13 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
04 Apr 00 | Africa
17 Apr 00 | In Depth
14 May 02 | Science/Nature
25 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
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