Rob Crilly reports in Nairobi, from The Times:
Rangers in the Democratic Republic of Congo believe that rising demand for ivory in China is to blame for an unprecedented wave of elephant poaching in one of the country’s war-torn national parks.
Fourteen elephants have been slaughtered in as many days as government soldiers and militias use ivory to raise money for guns. Conservationists believe that the ivory is being smuggled from Virunga National Park through Uganda and Burundi en route to China.
… Emmanuel de Merode, director of WildlifeDirect, said that the elephants were the victims of international pressures. “The upsurge in elephant killings in Virunga is part of a widespread slaughter across the Congo Basin and is being driven by developments on the international scene: the liberalisation of the ivory trade, being pushed by South Africa, and the increased presence of Chinese operators on the ground, who feed a massive domestic demand for ivory in their home country,” he said.
A report last year suggested that as many as 23,000 elephants were being skilled across the continent to meet soaring demand from a growing Chinese middle class. Much of it ends up in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, where it is turned into chopsticks bought by Chinese oil workers.