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Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement
05/07/2018
Trade in elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn

DUNCAN, Mr Nicholas, President, SAVE African Rhino Foundation

MURRAY, Dr Cameron James, Committee Member, SAVE African Rhino Foundation

Committee met at 08:31

ACTING CHAIR ( Senator Singh ): I declare open this public hearing of the inquiry by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement into the trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn. The inquiry's terms of reference are available from the secretariat. These are public proceedings and are being broadcast live via the web. I remind witnesses that in giving evidence to the committee they are protected by parliamentary privilege. I also remind witnesses that if evidence reflects adversely on another person or organisation the committee is generally required to make it known to that person or organisation that an adverse reflection has been made and provide them with an opportunity to respond. It is unlawful for anyone to threaten or disadvantage a witness on account of evidence given to a committee, and such action may be treated by the parliament as a contempt. It is also a contempt to give false or misleading evidence to the committee.

The committee prefers evidence to be given in public, but under the Senate's resolutions witnesses have the right to request to be heard in confidence, described as being in camera. If you are a witness today and intend to request to give evidence in camera please bring this to the attention of the secretariat as soon as possible. If a witness objects to answering a question the witness should state the grounds upon which the objection is taken and the committee will determine whether it will insist on an answer, having regard to the ground which is claimed. If the committee determines to insist on an answer a witness may request that the answer be given in camera. Such a request may of course also be made at any other time. I ask witnesses to remain behind for a few minutes at the conclusion of their evidence in case the secretariat needs to clarify any terms or references.

With the formalities over, I welcome representatives of SAVE African Rhino Foundation. Thank you for talking to us today. The committee has received your submission as submission No. 19. Do you wish to make any amendments to your submission?

Mr Duncan : I do need to make a couple of factual amendments. I realised when I was reading through our submission a moment ago that a couple of our facts for rhino numbers in Zimbabwe, on page 2 of our submission, were incorrect. As this is a public document I probably need to correct them. In the fourth line under Rhino Numbers Zimbabwe where it says 'peaking in 1994' it should say 'peaking in 2004'. At the beginning of the next line where it says '(180)' it should instead say '(40)'. At the beginning of the next paragraph, 'Then in 1995' should be 'Then in 2004'. At the end of the second line it should read 'in a matter of 8 years', not 17, and at the beginning of the third line it should read 'The gains of the previous 18', not 15. Those are the only minor changes we'd make.

ACTING CHAIR: Thank you, Mr Duncan. It may help the secretariat if you were to provide that updated submission, as well, with those new figures. I invite you either of you or both of you to make a brief opening statement.

Mr Duncan : I would imagine that over the last two days the committee has heard from a number of people in different fields other than ours. Our 'expertise' is the fact that, in my case, I am the founder of this organisation 31 years ago—for 30 years I've been the president—and I've just returned from my 94th trip to Zimbabwe. I'm quite involved in what goes on, and I have also made personal donations in excess of $2 million to funding the organisation so I have a vested interest in what we do on the ground in Zimbabwe, which is funding antipoaching in the 12 areas where rhinos are to be found. We don't have any great involvement with elephants, although elephants live in the same areas as rhinos, so by association they're also being protected.

We want to speak today more along the lines of what's happening on the ground, about the efforts that they make in Zimbabwe to protect their wildlife and the seriousness with which they take wildlife crime in some instances, and the punishments they dish out accordingly, in the hope that Australia then might say, 'If Zimbabwe can do it that way and make that much effort on what's going on in their own land'—I should say that Zimbabwe has 80,000 elephants. They've got plenty of elephants, but they take it seriously if an elephant gets killed. On the other hand, it may not be known to the committee or to the general public that IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, gives Zimbabwe the rights each year to hunt 500 elephants, which means that a thousand tasks can legitimately be transferred out of Zimbabwe to the place where the hunter lives, should that country allow its importation. This is something that some people don't realise, that you can legitimately shoot an elephant and pay a hefty price. A hefty price would be anything between US$50,000 and US$80,000. For the rights to go and shoot an elephant you have to pay for 21 days of hospitality by your host who has the elephant on his land. You have to pay US$2,800 a day to be hosted at the area where you go—21 days times US$2,800 is quite a sizeable amount of money. Then you pay a trophy fee of between US$20,000 and US$30,000 for the elephant to take it, depending on the size of its tasks. All of this is legitimate and approved by CITES, the IUCN and anyone else who is involved in the hunting world. We don't like it, but it happens.

You all know about Cecil the lion. Cecil was legitimately hunted by an American hunter who had paid $50,000 to hunt him. Where he came unstuck was that someone had fiddled the export permits to allow that lion to be taken back to America because, where he was hunted, there were no permits in existence, and someone had switched a permit from 200 kilometres away, where the man didn't have a sizeable lion, so that it could then be taken out of America. That was a fiddle. But that sort of stuff, hunting lions and hunting leopards, goes on. The whole thing, to our mind, is ghastly but it's allowed. And the theory for hunters is, if those vast sums of money that they pay go back into conservation of the remaining ones of the species, it's good for the species. You're only meant to take the old men out, who are past their use-by date—I'm talking male animals—to allow the new young ones to come through and get the breeding rights with the females.

Dr ALY: Imagine if we did that to people!

Mr Duncan : I thought that might be of interest you to know that hunting goes on legitimately. Poaching is a different thing. Most of the illegal ivory that gets caught, as in that one that was going to Malaysia which was caught in Perth a few years ago and elsewhere, gets caught in Hong Kong in a box of tricks with some other stuff. Poaching, of course, is illegal—that is, where they poach them, naughtily, purely for tusk. The hunter supposedly wants to stick the elephant or the lion on his wall and say, 'What a clever dick I am. That's what I did.' The poacher purely wants to make money from the carcass, from the bits that stick off it or from its claws or from its skin. And poaching is illegal so there's a difference there. The ivory that comes into Australia has probably come from poached animals. Then of course you've got animals that just die of old age or they die because they're in a fight for territorial rights—one biffs the other and he drops down dead. If he's got two nice big tusks or small tusks, they go to national parks, to the authorities.

In some of the southern African countries, they have massive stockpiles. For example, Zimbabwe has stockpiles of something like 15 tonnes of ivory. And they say, 'This ivory is ours. These are animals. They died however they died. We would like to get some money from them. We'd like to trade that ivory because we think we need 10 new Land Cruisers and we need to pay our men more salary. And it's a natural resource so why can't we benefit from it?' But we're not here to discuss the pros and cons of trade, I'm sure. I'm just telling you this because you might not have heard it before or been aware of it and, judging by your faces, it is probably quite interesting to you. We're involved in that side of things on the ground and probably have a greater understanding than many of the witnesses that you've met so far over the last two days.

We want to make our submission along slightly different lines. We can't say whether the antique dealers are doing the right thing or whether the wildlife traffickers are involved in syndicates around the world that are sponsoring terrorism or anything like that because we actually don't know that, other than what we read—the same as what you read or hear. But we can tell you, on the ground in Zimbabwe, there are hundreds and hundreds of African rangers who get paid what you'd consider a pittance—$250 a month—but, by African standards, is quite good. They get paid to go out on patrol 14 days in a row in weather like this, sleep out in a tent. They're away from their family for maybe three months because they go out for 14 days, back for three to get cleaned up and warm and get more food then out again, on a three-month stint. They meet poachers with AK-47s, and the men themselves are equipped with similar weapons—LM5s or other semi-automatic weapons—and there is a shoot-to-kill policy. Poachers get shot if they are in an area where there are prohibited animals such as elephants and rhinos. So they will be shot if they resist arrest. Now because they know the penalties for being arrested, they will resist arrest in most instances. There is a shoot-out and deaths occur, both rangers and poachers. It's horrible but that's what happens.

Now, if you're the widow of a ranger who was shot in the line of duty, you might be somewhat cheesed off to think that ivory and rhino horn can come into a place as advanced as Australia and get into the system without too many questions being asked, which, from reading some of the evidence, seems to be what is happening. So we support the families and widows of rangers; and the rangers themselves, who put their lives on the line to protect their own species because that is their job.

When I was over there two weeks ago, I gave a motivational speech to 35 rangers whom we've been supporting with a quarter of a million dollars for the last four years, and I said, 'You probably don't understand it, chaps. You're from the local area, but, before you got this job, you probably hadn't even seen an elephant, a kudu, a zebra, a lion, a wildebeest or a rhino, and yet you live only five miles away,' because they don't; it's not in their culture to be animal oriented. They would never dream of going on a game drive and saying, 'Ooh, look at those elephants! What a pretty sunset that is! Get my camera out,' et cetera. Am I boring you?

Dr ALY: No, not at all.

ACTING CHAIR: Mr Duncan, I just want to alert you to the time, because we want to ask you questions.

Mr Duncan : Okay. I'll get to the point. So I let these people know that they're doing their job on behalf of the world. None of us in this room is ever going to get the chance to go and protect wildlife in Africa, yet we probably all agree in our hearts that it should be protected and it shouldn't be knocked off on our watch. We were letting them know just how important their job is, and that's what I want the committee to know. We're supporting the men who risk their lives to protect these animals, and the punishment in their country, if you're caught with a little bit of ivory, is nine years in prison for a first offence and 11 years for a second offence—and that's just for having it in your hand, not for shooting the animal.

ACTING CHAIR: Where is that?

Mr Duncan : In Zimbabwe. That's nine years just for possession of ivory or rhino horn. That's how seriously they take it, and yet they've got 80,000 elephants. That small an amount of tusk isn't a big deal, but the principle is a big deal: you mustn't meddle with our animals. If they take it that seriously, I'd like to think that we can take it that seriously here and help to put a ban on this trade, because banning it is about the overall feeling that the world will get. They'll say, 'There's another country who can't stand what's going on. They are prepared to put their foot down, prepared to take drastic action, and do something about it.' It's about the psychological effect on the poaching syndicates and the wildlife racketeers; they can see yet another country, on top of China, the UK and Hong Kong, taking the matter seriously and addressing the issues. I should probably shut up at this stage.

Dr Murray : One point there is that what Nicholas has seen in his time with SARF is an increase in the level of poaching, which obviously is driven by demand, and the imposts on the likes of Nicholas financially and on our group as a whole are increasing as that demand increases. Any steps that a country like Australia can take to make it harder for that demand to be achieved or to be satisfied means that ultimately, if the demand drops, poaching levels will decline as a result, and maybe we can go back to a period like we had pre 2004 in that regard.

Mr Duncan : And while we're here, for an hour, three elephants on average will be killed, because it's 80 a day.

ACTING CHAIR: Eighty a day?

Mr Duncan : Eighty a day. If you divide that by 24, that's three and a bit an hour that are being killed around Africa. They are being killed for the Asian market, for trinkets carved out of ivory, as in some of the pictures that have been submitted to you.

It's also interesting to note that there is a system of 16 African countries called SADC. It's from Kenya southwards, including Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and others. Those 16 countries are range countries for the elephant, and that trade is allowed within those countries. So, when you're at the airport in Johannesburg or at the airport in Nairobi, you can go into a shop and buy an ivory trinket legitimately, on the assumption that you're going back to one of the other 16 countries where you can take it. But where it's wrongfully done is when people from the other 170 countries that aren't those 16 think, 'I can take it back to my country as well.' That's how some of it comes in here—you buy it in the duty free shops in Joburg airport, you hop on the plane to Sydney or to Perth, you stuff this in your luggage and you say, 'Well, I'll pretend it's just plastic, or I'll pretend it's bone, or I'll pretend it's something, or I'll just keep my trap shut and I hope they don't spot it.' That's how it can get into this country as well, because you can buy it on the free market. But supposedly it's only for trade within those 16 Southern African Development Community countries. It's probably quite an interesting point as to how some of it can wheedle its way into this country wrongfully.

ACTING CHAIR: Thank you very much, Mr Duncan. I'm not quite sure where to start. It's all a bit devastating. I think I want to go to this link between organised crime/terrorist groups and the illegal wildlife trade. We had some evidence yesterday from The Thin Green Line Foundation in relation to that, and I want to ask: do you see that governments in those African countries adequately recognise those links? Are they able to respond to them?

Mr Duncan : I can only answer with what I've read or heard; I have absolutely no firsthand experience. But two or three years ago, when the poaching of elephants was being highlighted in Tanzania because they were getting decimated, there was an insinuation made that the proceeds of that ivory trade were definitely going to—what was the group you told me?

Dr Murray : Al-Shabab and Boko Haram were some of them.

Mr Duncan : Two of the terrorist organisations were being funded—

Dr Murray : I think, also, the Lord's Resistance Army, the LRA, was mentioned as another one.

Mr Duncan : Ivory, in the past, has been known as 'white gold'. I thought of that last night when I was thinking of what I might say. It was used to fund the war of independence in Namibia and in Angola. The South African Army were using the proceeds of ivory for weapons for the resistance groups in the other countries. It has a nasty reputation of links with illegality, but I can't give you any more than that on terrorism or wildlife trafficking syndicates.

ACTING CHAIR: Looking to Australia, then, in the context of what's occurring in those African countries—that 80 African elephants per day are being killed, you said, for the Asian market—is there also a market in Australia, from your knowledge?

Mr Duncan : The answer is: I don't know. I was surprised to read the statistics saying so much is coming in. But, then, I suppose we do have a growing Asian influence in this country, and that's probably why. I've got to choose my words carefully, I would think, here. I would think certain people would buy it. Most people wouldn't, but I'm sure some would.

ACTING CHAIR: What measures do you think are necessary to ensure that this domestic ivory and rhino horn trade in Australia is properly enforced or prevented from occurring? At the moment, of course, it's unregulated in Australia once it's in.

Dr Murray : Again, our experience is more on the African side, but I think we've both been surprised by the lack of oversight of that trade through antique shops and the like, as far as the lack of interest in where the ivory comes from and the interest more in the sale than in any control over the process of how that's achieved. In essence, the concept of banning the market is obviously the easiest way to see that it doesn't happen. Otherwise, a far better controlled system, such that there is a greater level of paperwork and tracking of that process that goes on, would make a lot of sense We would know where either rhino horn or ivory product has come from, who supplied it, where it originated and where it's travelling. That would at least make the system far more transparent to everybody and would ensure that it is a lot harder to have product that's laundered, for want of a better word, through that system. Clearly not having a trade is the easiest system to have. The other system would be a far more expensive process to establish, but ultimately if that were a user-pays system then I guess that would be achievable as such. Is it fair for the rest of Australia to fund the monitoring process and the paperwork and everything else that would come with that? That's another debate. Essentially the costs could be borne by the industry if it were to be kept open. But currently it seems to be very poorly regulated and it does open the door and window for people who want to take a take advantage of that, I guess.

ACTING CHAIR: Your organisation is called SAVE African Rhino Foundation, so I think we should talk about rhinos as well in this mix. Evidence we've heard so far is that there are fewer than 30,000 rhinos left on the planet. Those numbers keep reducing each year. Are there any countries that have successfully implemented a model to restrict legal or illegal trade in rhino horn?

Mr Duncan : I don't know about countries; there are projects that are highly successful in breeding rhinos or having their numbers grow and protecting them from the would-be perpetrators of crime. The demand is in Asia, particularly Vietnam, as I'm sure you've heard in the previous two days, as a status symbol by between 2,000 and 3,000 wealthy businessmen who want to have it and boast that they've got it and also as a detoxifying agent for their wives and other family members who grind a bit down, mix it up and drink it for the next morning after a big night out. And that is their belief system. The traditional buyers of rhino horn in the past have been the Chinese market for traditional Chinese medicines. It doesn't matter what we do in the Western world; we won't be able to convince them too easily not to do that, any more than they will convince us not to take an aspirin or a paracetamol—that's our way of dealing with certain minor ailments. Their way is bits of bears, bits of this, bits of that. That's their belief system and it's going to take a long way to get it out. I've forgotten the question now!

ACTING CHAIR: I just wanted to know whether any countries in Africa had implemented any kind of laws to restrict this trade of rhino horn from the source country?

Mr Duncan : It's been totally illegal since 1979, but it hasn't worked. All it's done is that the more illegal it becomes and the more the more effort you make to make it hard, the higher the price goes, because it's harder to get hold of; therefore the price goes up. So it's up to $65,000 a kilo, which makes it more expensive than gold, and there are four to five kilos on a rhino's head, so there is a quarter of a million dollars plus on a rhino's head. There are three rhinos a day being killed in South Africa—over a thousand a year is over three a day. In Zimbabwe fortunately we're not as bad as that—it's only 30 in a year, so it's half a rhino a week. In South Africa the proceeds of crime are making three quarters of a million dollars a day as it stands at the moment.

Dr Murray : I think I'm right in saying that South Africa recently reintroduced an internal trade.

Mr Duncan : They reintroduced an internal trade last year, where you can trade it between yourselves but you can't take it out—they won't give an export permit.

Dr Murray : And there's one school of thought that they would like to establish a controlled international trade in rhino horn, the concern being that, if you allow that to happen, you'll drive demand up and the world won't be able to supply enough horn for that demand, and it'll also give a parallel market for illegally traded rhino horn. So it is a great debate that goes on as to whether controlled trade should be allowed. I'm pretty sure I'm right in saying that when there was controlled release of ivory out of Africa a few years ago it spiked illegal trade after that period as well. So it is a debate that goes on, but currently there's no active trade between countries. Recently, with the allowance of that trade within South Africa, ultimately there was one big rhino owner—I think he owns 1,200 rhino—

Mr Duncan : Sixteen hundred.

Dr Murray : Sixteen hundred rhino. The attempt to trade horn legally pretty much failed in that case, but he's still pushing for that.

Mr CRAIG KELLY: My questions are around, firstly, the trade in the rhino horn. Do you know approximately what percentage is used for medicine as opposed to decorative crafts? When I say 'medicines', I mean traditional Chinese or other Asian products for assumed medical purposes.

Dr Murray : I think the evidence there is a little hard to define, because our understanding is that, in somewhere like Vietnam, the large bulk of what is sold as rhino horn is actually fake; it's probably cow horn or other horn. True rhino horn, particularly wild rhino horn, is essentially only supplying a very small market at the top end of the chain, based on the true price of wild rhino horn, to the point where I gather that it's not uncommon that, to prove that a rhino horn is genuine, another body part of the rhino comes with the horn. So, on the percentage of trade on medicine versus status symbol, the bulk is probably still in medicine, but that's probably not actually rhino horn. The bulk of true rhino horn trade is a very small percentage at the top end of the market. That would be my understanding of that.

Mr CRAIG KELLY: You also mentioned there was some legal trade in there where there's actually authorised rhino horn from deceased animals. Can you just expand a little bit more on that. If that trade were banned, is that likely to increase poaching? What are your thoughts in that area?

Dr Murray : I missed the very first part of that.

Dr ALY: I think Mr Kelly was referring to the legal hunts and the legal trade that is occurring.

Mr CRAIG KELLY: Yes, I was.

Dr ALY: He wanted to know a bit more about that.

Dr Murray : I think it's worth clarifying that there's no legal hunt for the rhino.

Mr CRAIG KELLY: It's very hard to hear. Maybe you could try to get the secretariat to dial us back in. It's very hard to hear.

ACTING CHAIR: Yes, okay. We'll do that. I'll just pass to Dr Aly while we're waiting.

Dr ALY: Thank you, Mr Duncan and Dr Murray. I found your speech this morning very fascinating, and I have a number of questions. The first one relates to what I think Mr Kelly was trying to ask as well. You mentioned that people pay quite significant amounts of money for 'legitimate' hunts for different animals. I know it's not rhino, but there are elephants, and you mentioned tigers, lions and so on. You also mentioned the 16 countries in southern Africa where trade is allowed. Does this 'legitimate' type of trade and activity undermine efforts to completely ban the trade of illegal rhino horn and elephant ivory?

Mr Duncan : I'm not sure. We have to realise the difference between the big game hunter who wants to go to Africa and get the big five—lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant—and show them off and the poacher who is trying to make a living. One man is trying to satisfy his lust; the other man is trying to make a living for his family or for the network that he works for. Incidentally, I didn't mention it, but a hundred rhino trophies are also issued each year in South Africa. They have 20,000 rhinos and they allow a hundred to be killed each year. The prices there range from anything between US$80,000 and US$250,000 per beast. That is the world of hunting. It's a different world.

Dr Murray : It did allow a new legal trade as well. At one point, there were Vietnamese nationals being sent out on hunts to legally hunt a rhino and then put that horn into the illegal market outside of South Africa.

Mr Duncan : That's a very good point. That was one of the scandals of 2007 and 2008.

Dr ALY: Does this give an air of legitimacy to it that undermines any kind of effort to say, 'It's not legitimate. It's not right'?

Dr Murray : In essence, the less trade that happens in the world the easier it is to assess whether the trade is legal or illegal. Wherever there is a legal market, it makes it harder to understand whether the movement of ivory or rhino horn is an illegal act. Essentially, the more holes that are shut up for that trade to occur anywhere in the world the easier it is to say it's illegal and that it's happening through that port or through that country or through that area. Wherever there's legal trade, it acts as a smokescreen to the illegal trade.

Dr ALY: I was really fascinated by this: the 16 countries in southern Africa where trade is allowed between the countries. The example that you gave, Mr Duncan, was that people buy trinkets at the airports and there's an assumption that they're taking them to one of the other 16 countries. Is there no process for checking at the airports people's boarding passes or their passports to determine whether they actually are taking those pieces into those 16 countries or out?

Mr Duncan : I have to say, because I've not tried to buy a piece, I don't know. But you'd think that probably is the case because you do have to show your boarding card, don't you?

Dr ALY: That's right, when you buy anything duty free.

Dr Murray : However, when we fly to Zimbabwe, we always via South Africa and up to Zimbabwe, so you always have a boarding pass to say—

Dr ALY: That says, 'South Africa'.

Dr Murray : you're flying from South Africa to Zimbabwe.

Mr Duncan : Yes, and then I could shove it in my bag and fly back to Perth and keep my trap shut. You could easily fly through the 16 countries if you were out to do that. It's a good question, but I actually don't have a good answer.

Dr ALY: Can you speak a little bit about whether complete bans in other countries have had an impact on the trade? To what extent has there been an impact? Or is it not enough? Is something else needed in a more comprehensive framework to tackle this?

Mr Duncan : I don't think the complete bans have been in place for long enough. England's only just saying, 'We're about to do it.' China has said, 'We started on 1 January this year.' I think it's all too recent. That's why it'd be nice—you'd be the world pace-setters. You could say, 'We are banning the whole damn lot. That's it—no exceptions. We're taking the initiative. We're concerned about the future welfare of these two species. We're going to set an example and we ask our colleagues to follow.' It would be a lovely way to bring attention to the whole thing.

Dr Murray : I'm sure others have said this, but it's not just the two iconic species in Africa that get hammered. Fifty per cent of giraffe in Africa have been wiped out in the last 15 years. There are also 100,000 pangolin traded around the world illegally for medicinal use and other things.

Dr ALY: Could you explain 'pangolin'.

Dr Murray : Pangolins are the anteater-like animals with the big scales on their back.

Dr ALY: Why are giraffe hunted?

Dr Murray : In Tanzania and other places they're used for medicine purposes—they think it cures AIDS and other things—and for bushmeat. So we're talking about the decimation of many, many species; not just these two. Essentially, these are the iconic species, and in the case of the rhino, and the black rhino in particular, it's a very threatened species. But wildlife trade is a massive problem around the world for a whole range of animals; not just the iconic species.

Mr Duncan : Zebras are getting walloped for their skins. Lions have gone from 200,000 down to 25,000 in the last 20 years.

Dr ALY: I just have one more question. Mr Duncan, you mentioned a complete ban. What's the risk of that ban resulting in people going online? In your submission I think you talk a little bit about—no, I don't know if you do. There's a Click to delete report by the IFAW which identified online trading as a fairly significant challenge, particularly to law enforcement and to the ongoing accountability and management of something like a ban on wildlife trafficking. Given that it's very difficult to police the internet, do you see a risk of a complete ban resulting in people going to what we call the dark web and going underground, rather than going through open sources like eBay or craigslist in the US or Gumtree here?

Dr Murray : I think the trend surely would be that way whether there is an antiques trade or not. It's the same with so much of retail that goes that way. If they can cut out the middleman I think people would take that option whether there is a legal avenue or not. I don't think that's going to change it. I think trends would suggest that's going to happen whether we have laws that ban it in shops or not.

Mr CRAIG KELLY: Just picking up where I was before, you explained a little bit about the legal trade, where there's actually a certain amount of legal trade or legal killings of elephants and rhinos. Could you expand on that a little bit, please.

Mr Duncan : Mr Kelly, you're referring here to a hunting. Hunting is a way of life for certain people. They can go hunting in certain African countries—not in all, but in many—and they can pay a fee for the right to hunt an animal that has been predesignated as one of the animals that's going to be hunted because he's an old male and they think they can make better use of the money from him to put into looking after his fellow animals. So you pay $50,000 or $80,000 to hunt an elephant or $150,000 to hunt a rhino. There's 100 of those a year, many more elephants a year, many lions a year and many leopards a year. You pay that fee, and that's all legitimate. That's the legal trade. You're doing it for the trophy as opposed to the bits and pieces like the claws, the tail or the ears.

Mr CRAIG KELLY: On that, even though it might be legal in Zimbabwe on the ground, I understand it's illegal for that trophy to be imported back to most western countries.

Mr Duncan : In recent years the US have banned importation from Zimbabwe. That's more on political grounds than it is on conservation grounds. I'm not sure whether Australia allows you to bring an elephant in. I know they don't allow lions, because there's canned hunting of lions, which the Australian government has put a stop to. I'm not sure whether you can bring an elephant in. I don't know whether the committee knows.

Mr CRAIG KELLY: We can cast moral judgments on the hunting, but is that actually working? Is that providing funds for conservation? Is it positive as far as conservation goes?

Mr Duncan : If you ask a hunter, it will be a very strong yes. If you ask an observer, I've got muted thoughts on it. Certainly it does bring an income and it does allow antipoaching patrols to be funded. It does allow certain amounts of protection to take place, because the landowners are making sure that their animals survive so they can be hunted. It's in their interest to minimise poaching on their land, so they try to reduce poaching in order to allow hunting to be commercially viable. The people who make the most out of it are the people who own the land where the animal is being hunted. How much of that they put back into conservation or into around-the-world air tickets is their business.

Dr Murray : I think one thing to add there is that the example in Zimbabwe is that two of the three largest rhino conservancies in the country are privately owned areas and are hunting properties. Essentially, the only reason those properties exist—and we're talking big areas; for example, Save, where most of our money goes, is roughly 130 kilometres by 30 kilometres in size—is because of hunting. The other thing to say is that, anecdotally, discussing it with the people who own those properties and other hunters, it is an industry in decline. Each year, they hold big hunting conventions in America, and the general consensus is that the average age of people attending those hunting conventions is increasing such that the general feel is that it's an industry that will gradually fade in Africa due to public opinion. As a result, that's one thing that drives increasing demand from groups like ours for funding. As their take from hunting declines, they do need to look at other areas to source funds for their antipoaching efforts, particularly in the period of heightened poaching that they're suffering at present.

Mr CRAIG KELLY: You also mentioned that Zimbabwe has something like 100 tonnes of ivory stock. Was that the figure you quoted?

Mr Duncan : No, 15 tonnes.

Mr CRAIG KELLY: How does that so-called stock come about? Where does that stock comes from? Who holds it? How do they sell it? Who do they sell it to?

Mr Duncan : It obviously comes from dead elephants. They've either died of old age or have been poached and then been caught before the poachers get them. For example, last Saturday, one of our antipoaching groups up near Victoria Falls got a message. We have informers on the Zambian side, and the boatman is one of them. He said there was a gang in. Anyway, to cut a long story short, they were tracked for 10 hours, and the gunman was shot dead. The other five helpers got away. One was caught two days later injured. They had 15 tusks, so that's eight elephants. That little gang had killed eight elephants in the previous few days. Those 15 tusks now go into the vaults at national parks because the poachers didn't get them. So that's how some of it gets caught: from confiscation. The rest is that, from 80,000 elephants, you've got a fair number dying each day from old age, starvation, drought or fighting. They get that as well. So it builds up over time.

How do they get rid of it? At the moment, they can't, but every now and again—about every five years in the past—CITES have given them the one-off permission to hold an auction for 10 tonnes. It started in 2001 and then happened again in 2007 They managed to get rid of 10 tonnes, as did Namibia and as did Botswana, the three countries that have the biggest elephant populations. And they legitimately sold it to the Asian market or whoever was there to buy it, and it was allowed as a one-off sale. That in fact was a mistake, because the poaching syndicates said, 'If CITES said it's okay to do it, that's good enough for us. If CITES says you can sell it, well, hell, we'll get to work and go shoot some more.' So you then have the illegal ivory going into the so-called legal trade. It became very complicated.

Mr CRAIG KELLY: I'll play devil's advocate with you. If all of a sudden they put this extra ivory onto the market and that in some way satisfied the existing demand—if all that ivory is on the market—why would you go out and poach elephants?

Dr Murray : What I think happened was that China and, I think, Hong Kong bought it all to then sell it on. So it didn't feed the market; it fed another vault in another country to then put out at high prices subsequently. The other problem, as I alluded to before, with the concept of legal trade is that it might drop the price initially but there are two factors. I gather the understanding is that people want wild horn not farmed horn. In the case of rhinoceros, most of it in South Africa is farmed rhino. Essentially, there will always be a premium for the wild version—a bit the same as you may not want a fish that comes from a farmed environment; you might want a fish that is taken direct from the sea. The concern is that, if you establish a legal trade—which may drop the price in theory but no-one actually knows the economics of whether that's going to happen or whether it's just going to drive up demand—ultimately, that will then drive up demand for the wild version, which will put more pressure on the wild supply of horn.

Mr Duncan : Mr Kelly, one part of your question was: what happens to that 15 tonnes of ivory that's in the Zimbabwe vault? It's tradeable amongst the 16 surrounding countries and there is a business in Harare for carving ivory. So dealers can go there every day and buy it on the open market, at whatever the going price is, legitimately if they have an ivory dealer's license and take it home and fiddle with it and then put it into the system.

Dr Murray : One of the figures I saw the other day was that wild mammals make up four per cent of the global mammal population compared to humans and domestic species. If you look at that four per cent and the percentage that are rhinos, we are talking about a very, very tiny number of the animal population that is expected to then feed a trade. I don't think that's ever going to be a viable option.

Mr CRAIG KELLY: You talk about a total ban. I would use the analogy of the drug trade, where we have a total ban on the drug trade. Unless we can totally squash demand, it just seems a way of the supply equalling the demand legally or illegally. Isn't there the same risk in ivory products, in that, if you do ban it, it drives the market underground and it still exists and, in fact, because it is banned, you actually drive up the price, which therefore drives up the crime and the violence associated with it? I would like to know your thoughts on that.

Dr Murray : Sorry, I missed the point of your questioning.

Mr CRAIG KELLY: We're more than sympathetic with the idea that elephants, rhinoceros and animals have to be protected, especially when they're in danger in Africa. We're all on board with that. The question is: what's the best way to go about that? If I do an analogy with the drug trade, we all agree that illegal drugs are terrible and should be stopped, but, until we tackle the demand side, whatever that demand seems to be, the supply seems to get through. There are always people who will get around the law and will break the law and black markets operate. In the end, in many cases, you only make the problem worse. Is that something that could potentially happen with ivory—that, if there was a total ban and you're not actually tackling the demand side, you're just driving the trade underground and making things more violent and making the problems that we have greater?

Dr Murray : I think you're 100 per cent right. Essentially, the concept of anti-poaching in Africa is a finger in the dike, and ultimately the work to decrease demand has to continue. There's a colleague of ours in Melbourne who's working at that process. There's a range of conservation groups who have gentle approaches, which could be criticised for not being hard enough, who are working to reduce that demand. Essentially, there's a great understanding that that demand does need to be reduced but that takes time and, while that's taking time, there needs to be the finger in the dyke at the other end. Equally, anything that can happen that decreases the ability for that supply to happen while that work is being done, which will take years or ultimately a decade or more, has to be a good thing. Australia is in no way a primary source of ivory or rhino horn so, to some degree, why do we have any part in it at all? Therefore, if we can slow up this supply to what is currently a demand then that has to be beneficial in the long term. If we can decrease demand, that's the ultimate goal. That has to be the aim as well but there needs to be a process to slow that supply and make it as hard as possible while we work at reducing that demand.

Dr ALY: Thank you so much. That was fascinating.

ACTING CHAIR: If we have any other follow-up questions, we'll put them on notice to you. Likewise, if you have any other information you wish to submit to the committee, please feel free to do so. Thank you, gentlemen.