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Exposing the Hydra - IvoryDespite being the focus of numerous investigations and exposés regarding the country’s role in the international illegal wildlife trade, Vietnam continues to be a primary hub for ivory trafficking.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has released a report Exposing the Hydra: The growing role of Vietnamese syndicates in ivory trafficking documenting the findings of a two-year undercover investigation. (Download the full report at this hyperlink).

Investigators successfully infiltrated several ivory trafficking syndicates operating in Mozambique, South Africa, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, building a detailed picture of how these criminal organizations are structured, how they cooperate with one another and how they also traffic other endangered species such as rhinos and pangolins.

In contrast to China, which closed its domestic legal ivory market in January and stepped up enforcement against ivory trafficking, the Government of Vietnam has not demonstrated serious commitment to tackling wildlife crime, says the organization. Instead, the past decade has seen Vietnam serve as a prominent transit route for large ivory shipments to China as well as overseeing a growing carving industry and one of the world’s biggest markets for ivory sales.

The report states that since 2009, 56 tons of ivory have been seized in Vietnam and a further 20 tons linked to Vietnam seized in other countries. This is equivalent to ivory sourced from approximately 11,414 elephants.

EIA estimates that since 2015 the ivory traffickers identified during the course of their investigation have been linked to seizures totalling 6.3 tons of ivory and 299 kilograms of rhino horn, including the recent record seizure of 50 rhino horns in Malaysia in August 2018. Between January 2016 and November 2017 there were at least 22 successful shipments of ivory from Africa, with an estimated weight of 19 tons and potential revenue of $14 million.

Source: EIA International and Maritime Executive, 16 September 2018

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China is the biggest recipient of Mozambique timber

China is the biggest recipient of Mozambique timber

Mozambique news agency AIM reported last week that the Mozambican customs service has seized 30 containers full of logs that were about to be exported illegally to China through the port of Maputo.

The report said that the seizures began on 16 January in the town of Marracuene about 30 kilometres north of Maputo, where Customs located ten containers, each measuring 15 cubic metres, in a yard belonging to the Chinese firm Heng Yi.

As the investigations continued, the authorities discovered a further 20 containers already in the port waiting to be loaded onto a ship heading for China.

The containers in the Heng Yi yard contained mondzo, a species classified as a first grade hardwood, which cannot be exported without processing. Yet the mondzo logs had been packed into the containers without any inspection by the relevant authorities.

China is the biggest consumer of timber from Mozambique accounting for 85 percent of the 430,000 cubic metres of logs to leave the African country between 2000 and 2010, according to a study from the Mozambican Environmental Research Agency.

The study, cited by Mozambican daily newspaper Notícias also said that the value of wood exports to China in the period had risen from US$8 million to US$100 million between 2001 and 2010.

Mozambican wood is exported to China, South Africa, Germany, Japan, France, Mauritius, Malaysia, Thailand, Tanzania, Portugal, Israel, Vietnam, Singapore, Turkey, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Croatia, Namibia, Dubai, India, Pakistan, the United States, Reunion Islands, and Italy.

Last week the containers in the port were still being unpacked to check exactly what types of wood they contain. Staff of the Mozambican Tax Authority (AT) said that the origin of the logs is still unclear, but their nature and diameter indicate that they came from the forests of Nampula and Zambezia provinces, or possibly from the northern part of Gaza.

China is the largest consumer of Mozambican timber, and the Chinese market accounted for 85 percent of the 430,000 cubic metres of logs that left Mozambique, much of it illegally, between 2000 and 2010, according to a report from the Environmental Investigation Agency, a London-based NGO that works to fight environmental crimes. Source – AIM