Namibia's Ivory Sale Raises Poaching Fears

Legal auction could lead to more poaching
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2008 7:31 AM CDT
Namibia sold 7 tons of ivory tusks for the first time in nearly 10 years, in one of four auctions of ivory stockpiles to Chinese and Japanese buyers.   (AP Photo/Francois Poolman)
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(Newser) – Namibia kicked off two weeks of ivory auctions yesterday, marking the first time in almost a decade that the elephant tusks have sold legally, reports the Times of London. Seven tons brought $1.18 million from Chinese and Japanese buyers, and 108 tons—the equivalent of 10,000 elephants—will sell over the course of the sale. But conservationists fear the action will revive the illegal ivory trade, which decimated Africa's elephant population from 5 million in the 1930s to 600,000 today.

“This, coupled with a lack of sufficient checks in importing countries such as China and instability in some African range states, could easily drag us back to the dark and bloody days of the 1980s when we were seeing around 200 elephants killed by poachers each week," said an activist.