New TRAFFIC Study encourages DRC to develop a robust ivory stockpile management system - TRAFFIC

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Yaoundé, Cameroon, 5th  June 2020—gaps in institutional and regulatory frameworks, conflicting and unclear roles and responsibilities of concerned state institutions, weak levels of co-operation and collaboration and low capacity are major factors undermining the effective and secure management of government held ivory stockpiles in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) finds a new TRAFFIC report.

 

key findings

 

The study—Les Stocks d’Ivoire d’Elephant de la République Démocratique du Congo: Quel Système de Gestion Mettre en Place? (Stockpiles of elephant ivory in DRC: what management measures to  put in place?)—was compiled following revelations that over a 26-year period from 1990 through 2015, a minimum of 7,686 kg of ivory went missing from government custody in DRC.[1]

 

Central Africa has been identified as one of the main sources of illegal ivory fuelling unregulated domestic ivory trade throughout West and Central Africa and overseas destinations, especially Asia, in recent years.[2] One of the known sources of illegal ivory is leakage from government held stockpiles.

 

The new study included an in-depth review of relevant documents including Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Decisions, national policies and legal frameworks and included formal and informal interviews with major stakeholders, including government officials and NGOs in DRC.

 

DRC’s international commitments to CITES included the development and implementation of a national ivory action plan (NIAP), which, since 2015 has been aimed at contributing to the protection and sustainable management of elephants in the country in general, and specifically to counter poaching and the illegal ivory trade.

 

A NIAP requires Parties to control and secure their ivory stocks and report back to CITES periodically. However, the new TRAFFIC report reveals major gaps in the national ivory stockpile management system of DRC.  TRAFFIC therefore proposes the following needs to be addressed.

 

Weak Political and Institutional Frameworks

A decree establishing the status of the public body responsible for the management of protected areas of national interest (Article 36 of Law n ° 14/003 of February 11, 2014 relating to nature conservation) is needed to clarify the responsible structure for the management of ivory stocks. The decree would also outline collaborations with other institutions, including the Central Bank, with regard to the management of ivory stocks and those of other specimens.

 

Co-operation and Collaboration

Different agencies directly or indirectly carry out law enforcement actions resulting in the seizure of ivory. There is a clear need to establish an inter-ministerial working group encompassing relevant Ministries/Institutions/Services (Environment, Justice, Finance, Interior, Defense, Mining, ICCN - Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature, Customs etc.) to propose—with participation of civil society representatives—the foundations of a national ivory stock management system.

 

Lack of Capacity of Major Players

Those charged with ivory stockpile management in the DRC lack the necessary capacity and basic equipment to carry out this activity. This should cover specifications as in CITES Decision 10.10 (Rev. CoP17) on marking, weighing, recording, storing, securing etc. but also inputting data or managing other software in capturing and storing information. In fact, CITES Decision 17.171 charges the CITES Secretariat with developing practical guidance for the management of ivory stockpiles, including their disposal, based on an analysis of best practices and in accordance with provisions in Resolutions Conf. 17.8 on Disposal of illegally traded and confiscated specimens of CITES-listed species and Conf. 10.10 (Rev. CoP17) on Trade in elephant specimens.[3]

 

“A guidance document is imperative to help curb the illegal ivory trade based on stock losses, and should serve to ensure better record keeping, more transparency in stockpile management, regular auditing of the inventory and communication of the results”, said Sone Nkoke of TRAFFIC, a co-author of this new study.

 

Les Stocks d’Ivoire d’Elephant de la République Démocratique du Congo: Quel Système de Gestion Mettre en Place?, 2020 - was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Wildlife Trafficking, Response, Assessment and Priority Setting (Wildlife TRAPS) Project, and by WWF Cameroon under the Wildlife Crime Initiative (WCI) Hub for Central Africa (CA) Project.

 

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