Tanzania Remains Vulnerable to Wildlife Trafficking

Dec 19, 2019 | News


The vast majority of ivory (72 percent) and pangolin scales are trafficked by sea in containerized cargo, due to the high volumes involved and the minimal risk of interception and arrest. Tanzania’s seaports, especially Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, remain vulnerable to wildlife trafficking despite a boost in enforcement effort, according to conference proceedings published by NGO TRAFFIC. 

More than 23 tonnes of ivory seized in 2009–2015 was intercepted at or originated from the two ports, most of it destined for Asia. Increased enforcement efforts by Tanzanian authorities since August 2015 seem to have forced traffickers to shift their routes to other ports, but between 2016 and 2018, 27 wildlife seizures in the nearby region indicate the likelihood that Dar es Salaam sea and airports could still be used for wildlife trafficking, along with alternative routes through Mozambique and West African seaports, such as in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with Uganda as a key transit country.

The report notes that there ae significant challenges hampering effective risk profiling of export containers:

• Full export cargo loading lists are often provided to customs only when containers have been loaded onto a ship and are already unavailable for inspection; and,

• Revenue collection is still of higher priority for customs and more resources and effort are invested in inspection of imports than exports. Hence, risk profiling and inspection of export shipments and transhipments, which are critical for illicit wildlife trade in Tanzania, receive insufficient attention/scrutiny from customs, especially in cases of consolidated/ combined shipments.

Opportunities to improve wildlife trafficking detection and interception at the port level include:

• Automatic risk profiling based on advance information from shipment bookings and electronic export/import documents (bill of lading and manifest);

• Closer collaboration between private sector and customs to exchange information on suspicious containers;

• Non-intrusive technologies (e.g. scanning, sniffer dogs) and weighing of containers at the port to uncover anomalies in provided documentation; and

• Development of a reward system to encourage informers to report on wildlife trafficking cases.

Every year, the illegal wildlife trade displaces billions of U.S. dollars of national revenue from developing countries to the criminal individuals and networks. Traffickers exploit legitimate transport, logistics services and commercial trade routes to move wildlife and their products illegally from source to consumer countries. 

The workshop was convened in Dar es Salaam by the Wildlife Division of Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Tanzania Revenue Authority; the Tanzania Ports Authority, TRAFFIC, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, WWF, with technical support from World Customs Organization and The Royal Foundation.

The report is available here.


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