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Source: NABU – Nature Conservation Union Germany associations demand a clear signal against illegal wildlife trade

1.2 tons! It was the largest find of smuggled ivory that has ever been made in Germany. But the accused now gets away with a suspended sentence. The NABU International Nature Conservation Foundation and Future for Elephants criticize the judgment sharply.

Confiscated ivory in the General Customs Directorate Berlin 2016 – Photo: Sebastian Hennigs

November 12, 2020 – In Cottbus today, a defendant who was arrested for trafficking in 1.2 tons of ivory escaped with a suspended sentence of one year and eight months. The trial concerned the largest ever found of smuggled ivory in Germany. In 2016, the defendant reportedly commissioned a woman to export around 600 kilograms of ivory from Germany to Vietnam, where he intended to process the ivory and for sale. Another 570 kilograms of ivory as well as machines for processing were secured in premises rented by him. Offenses for which the law provides for a sentence of three months to five years in prison.

“Every year 20,000 elephants die mainly from poaching, which is further fueled by the demand for ivory. The mild verdict is a sign of poverty and a missed opportunity to send a clear signal against wildlife crime beyond the borders of Germany. ”Barbara Maas, Head of International Species Conservation NABU International

The fact that the main hearing in such a volatile case was four years in coming and that the court did not fully exhaust the legal possibilities of harsh punishment for the offenses sends a completely wrong signal in efforts to protect international species. In total there are 720 confiscated pieces, including 30 tusks. The ivory has a market value of over one million euros and comes from at least 100 elephants. In the case of such serious violations of the Federal Nature Conservation Act and commercial trade in ivory, the NABU International Nature Conservation Foundation, together with Future for Elephants, demands that the statutory penalties are fully exhausted so that an offense of this magnitude is not without consequences had admitted, had stated that they had purchased the goods without papers for 6,000 euros at flea markets, where trading in so-called “antique ivory” (before 1947) and with ivory imported and certified before 1989 is still legal. He then wanted to bring her illegally to Vietnam to start a new life there. Many countries in Africa are making great efforts to end poaching and the ivory trade. In Kenya, for example, the illegal wildlife trade is punished with high prison sentences and fines of up to 150,000 euros. After China, the USA and England, Germany and the EU should also take on a pioneering role and consistently ban local trade that keeps loopholes open for illegal goods. The origin of the ivory, which was most likely imported before 1989, is still unclear, mainly due to the large amount. Poaching is the greatest threat to the African elephant, which has now disappeared from large parts of its former range. Since 1980 the population of African elephants has been reduced from 1.3 million to around 350,000 animals. In addition to poaching, elephants are primarily threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

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