African Rangers and WWF Call for Swift Ivory Ban Testifying at Legislative Council on the deadly ivory trade | WWF Hong Kong

African Rangers and WWF Call for Swift Ivory Ban Testifying at Legislative Council on the deadly ivory trade

Posted
06 June 2017


Frontline rangers have travelled from Africa to join WWF in Hong Kong, urging legislators to ban the ivory trade. The group speaks on behalf of all the rangers who risk their lives every day to protect wildlife. Over the last 10 years, 1,000 rangers have lost their lives in line of duty, often at the hands of elephant poachers. Such brutality is driven by a lucrative illegal wildlife trade, and fuels transnational crime. Today, the Legislative Council is consulting the public on a proposal to “phase out the local trade in ivory” in five years. Hong Kong, the world’s largest city market for ivory, should end the ivory trade immediately.

Testifying at the Legislative Council, Erik Mararv, Manager of Garamba National Park, managed by African Parks, in the Democratic Republic of Congo , reveals the danger facing rangers in the one of the oldest wildlife protected areas in Africa. Last year, a group of armed poachers lured Erik and his rangers with an elephant carcass. Surprised by the ambush, Erik was wounded (A bullet entered through one leg and then luckily passed cleanly through the other). Three rangers at his side were killed. “Our job protecting elephants puts us on the frontline against armed poachers and militias nearly every day. The groups that are poaching are the same ones that are abducting people, raping people, and stealing food and money. Africans are losing their lives because of the illegal ivory trade, spurred by demand for ivory products. If Hong Kong rewards ivory traders with compensation, this message can trigger more poaching in Africa, putting rangers’ lives at greater risk,” said Erik Mararv.
 
 
Josias Mungabwa, Former Wildlife Crime Investigator with the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) Investigations and Intelligence Unit added, “A lot of the poachers are heavily incentivized and militarized gangs are equipped with AK-47s. Highly organized syndicates have established transport routes by bribing officials to facilitate smuggling elephant-tusks to Asian markets. We must take away their incentive to operate by banning the ivory trade, and ensure that they are properly investigated and prosecuted by the authorities.”
 
Hong Kong is the largest ivory market in the world, carrying more ivory items on sale than any other city surveyed. The Hong Kong government has proposed to ban the ivory trade by 2021 while China is going to close its domestic market by the end of 2017. “We are calling for an ivory ban to be implemented as soon as possible and impose a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment for wildlife crime. The future of Africa’s elephants and the brave rangers that protect them lies in the hands of our legislators”, said Cheryl Lo, Senior Wildlife Crime Officer, WWF-Hong Kong.
 
 

Biographies


 
Erik Mararv, Manager of Garamba National Park, managed by African Parks, in the Democratic Republic of Congo
 
Aged 31, a Swedish national but a third generation African, Erik Mararv was born in the Central African Republic, where his parents were working at the time. For much of the last decade, Mararv managed a remote camp in the southeastern Central African Republic. In May of 2015, he moved to Garamba, one of the world’s last wild places.

Garamba, situated in a lawless region of northern DRC, shares over 200 km of border with South Sudan. The area is subject to raids by the Janjaweed from Darfur, army units and militias from both Sudan and South Sudan, and followers of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.

Poachers in Garamba primarily target elephants for their ivory, and are often heavily armed using professional techniques. Many of these groups have been involved in numerous central African conflicts and have carried out atrocities against civilians.

 
 
 
Josias Mungabwa, Former-Wildlife Crime Investigator with the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) Investigations and Intelligence Unit
 
Aged 49, a Zambian national, Josias Mungabwa is a highly trained wildlife crime investigations specialist with almost 3 decades of experience.
 
Over the years, Josias has honed his skills as a law enforcement officer and conservationist. He has acquired a wealth of knowledge, including intelligence and investigations, forensics, evidence collection and DNA sampling guidelines for wildlife and domestic animals.
 
In 1989, he joined the then National Parks and Wildlife Service as a Wildlife Scout in the Kafue National Park, Zambia’s largest protected area. In 1994, he graduated as a Wildlife Police Officer, and then served as a Ranger at the South Luangwa National Park.
 
In 2004, he oversaw anti-poaching operations for the Lower Zambezi National Park. Subsequently, he was promoted to Senior Investigations Officer at the Zambia Wildlife Authority headquarters. In 2016, he joined the Wildlife Crime Prevention Project to continue his work in conservation and investigations.
 
He has a Degree in Law from the Zambian Open University.

Learn more
(From the left to the right) Claudia Mo, Legislator; Cheryl Lo, Senior Wildlife Crime Officer, WWF-Hong Kong; Josias Mungabwa, Wildlife Crime Investigator; Erik Mararv, African Ranger​; Elizabeth Quat, ​Legislator.
© Yvonne Chan / WWF-Hong Kong
Rangers in Garamba National Park managed by African Parks Network.
© Warren Smart / African Parks
© Martin Harvey / WWF