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Africa's illegal ivory trade increasing -

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CHRIS UHLMANN, PRESENTER: It's been two decades since the global ivory trade was banned, yet there
are new fears that illegal poaching is becoming more rampant due to the increased involvement of
organised crime cartels.

Between 2008 and 2009, the volume of illegal ivory seized doubled and observers say this is just
the tip of the iceberg. Most of it comes from Africa with China the main destination. On the ground
animal conservationists are risking their lives to protect the elephants.

Sam Farmer travelled to Africa to witness the poaching first hand. And a warning, viewers may find
some of the following images disturbing.

SAM FARMER, REPORTER: This baby elephant lived for only a month. It died of dehydration after
poachers killed its mother, keen to exploit one of Africa's most lucrative commodities, ivory.

In the last year the international price has jumped to more than $US1,000 per kg, prompting an
unprecedented wave of poaching across the continent. With a pair of tusks weighing up to 50kg, each
elephant represents a fortune. A temptation for many too great to ignore.

Less than a mile away, a giant bull elephant lies in a pool of maggots. He is just one of 37,000
African elephants slaughtered for their tusks each year.

Two decades ago, trading ivory was banned worldwide but last year the law was relaxed, allowing
lowing government stockpiles to be sold off. Dr Esmond Bradley Martin has been monitoring the
illegal ivory trade for the past 30 years.

ESMOND BRADLEY MARTIN, BIOLOGIST: It is probably more ivory going illegally to China than any other
country in the world. I think there is a link between the number of Chinese that have come into
Africa recently and elephant and ivory purchasing.

For instance, I think in around 2000/2001 there was something like 75,000 Chinese working in
Africa. Now the figure is well over 500,000 and we know the Chinese have been caught all over
Africa and in Kenya they've been caught coming into the country with ivory from the Congo, from
Cameroon - those are the recent ones.

The Chinese have been carving ivory for over 7,000 years but until recently only the wealthier
people could buy, but now the middle class has risen up in China and it's in much greater demand

SAM FARMER: In what has been described by many as the new colonialism and in defiance of the global
recession, China's annual trade with Africa has soared to more than $100 billion, a figure that is
expected to grow by a further 80 per cent next year.

ASGA PATHAM, CARE FOR THE WILD CHARITY: If you look at all the poaching incidents taking place in
east Africa it's where all the Chinese are present. The northern part of Kenya, the (inaudible)
area, the (inaudible) area, this is where the Chinese have been creating roads, constructing roads.

SAM FARMER: The truth is, 50 per cent of ivory poaching in Kenya takes place within a 20 mile
radius of Chinese road building projects. Yet the Kenyan Wildlife Service, a government body that
aspires to be a world leader in wildlife protection, seems hesitant to point the finger at the
Chinese, one of the country's primary international investors.

GEORGE OSURI, KENYAN WILDLIFE SERVICE: Some of the Chinese nationals have been arrested there,
ivory, and at this moment I don't want to categorically say that they are involved but once we are
through, once we crack the cartel we will now be able to tell you who actually is responsible for
the buying of the ivory. It cannot be in conjunction with the (inaudible) wildlife authorities. To
some extent we are in control.

SAM FARMER: But that's not the view held by many of the conservation groups that feel they have
little choice but to protect what elephants they have and are now upgrading their own private
patrols and preparing to respond in force.

This is one of Kenya's most effective private anti-poaching units. A 70-strong heavily armed team
with a mandate of protecting 100,000 acres in Laikipia District in northern Kenya. They're on high
alert after losing 52 elephants in the last two years and are responding to a tip off that an
elephant poacher is operating nearby.

ANDY MARSHALL, THE GALLMANN AFRICA CONSERVANCY: Everyone outside the conservancy has a weapon.
Everybody. And so they are now starting to bring their weapons inside the conservancy and it is
very risky because these people will shoot, yeah, they will shoot without asking any questions.
We've had a plane shot at, two poachers were shot. So these people are armed and very well armed -
G3s, AK47s - because the price of ivory is 12,000 shillings/kg and therefore everyone's going to
chance their luck.

SAM FARMER: East Africa is suffering from its worst drought in more than a decade, pushing as many
as 23 million people to the brink of starvation. Crops have failed, tens of thousands of cattle and
goats have died and international appeals remain underfunded.

This is just one of the many child-feeding station scattered across the region, providing welcome
yet temporary relief. But for adults desperate to scratch a living, poaching is the most attractive
option available. Nelson Mutonga was orphaned as a young boy and started poaching soon afterwards.
Last month he was caught red handed after killing an elephant and a rhino but was offered a pardon
in exchange for intelligence into the ivory smuggling underworld and becoming a member of a private
anti-poaching unit. He describes how he killed the elephants.

NELSON MUTONGA, FORMER ELEPHANT POACHER (translated): I took a bow and arrow and dipped the head of
the arrow in a very strong poison. I then shot at the elephant's rib cage, close to its lungs. It
dies within a few minutes.

SAM FARMER: He then sells the ivory to a local broker, who passes it on to a Chinese trader in

One-hundred-and-thirty-four Chinese nationals have been arrested in Africa trying to smuggle
illegal ivory back home and in the last decade there have been 426 cases of ivory seized on route
to China. This haul is the largest ever discovered on Kenyan soil - 703kg. It was found in a car
driven by these two men and owned by an ex-Kenyan Member of Parliament.

The parliamentary car pass is still intact on the windscreen. The ex-MP has denied it's his car,
despite vehicle registration documents proving his ownership. The drivers were forced to pay a fine
of $US250, which stands as a small deterrent.

If poaching continues at current levels, experts predict the extinction of elephants across most of
sub-Saharan Africa within the next 15 years.

Without a concerted international effort to stem the resurgence of ivory poaching, images like this
will soon become a thing of the past.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Sam Farmer with that report.