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Monday, 19 September 2016

Despicable people

It seems incredible that despite the worldwide abhorrence of the trade in ivory, that the slaughter of these noble beasts still continues. Last week conservation groups from around the world called for a global ban on the domestic trade in ivory.

Eh? Thought the trade was already banned? No. International trade was banned in 1989 – 27 years ago, but internal markets could still trade… Who thought of that stupidity? May have been pressure from South Africa... Yes, there probably has been the need to cull a certain number of elephants in a particular region due to destruction of the habitat, encroachment on human communities; so their ivory is fair game, no pun intended.

Well, it comes as no surprise that the internal markets in countries such as South Africa to some extent serve as a cover for illicit ivory sales for the international market, and inevitably they encourage poaching.

Some 10,000 delegates from 192 countries met in Hawaii for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). I hadn’t heard of the IUCN, yet it was founded in France in 1948 by Julian Huxley with laudable aims; though considering the decimation of so many animal species one has to question its effectiveness.  They do supply a ‘red list’ of endangered species – see here.

The first continent wide aerial survey of Africa revealed that 30% of elephants living in savannah grasslands – 144,000 – were lost to poachers between 2007 and 2014.

Estimates by Charity Elephants Without Borders suggest the remaining 352,000 elephants is being slashed by 8% per year. Smaller elephants dwelling in jungles have declined even faster, by 60%; easier prey, harder to find the poachers.

‘The shutting down of domestic ivory markets,’  the president of the Wildlife Conservation Society said,  ‘will send a clear signal to traffickers and organised criminal syndicates that ivory will no longer support their criminal activities.

We should also pause for a moment and give thanks to the many rangers, anti-poachers and conservationists who have died in their efforts to thwart the poachers. Money is one of the issues when protection of the species is concerned. The cynic in me has to ask how much of the cost of flights to Hawaii could have been diverted to funding more rangers, more protection?

Last month, eco-investigators TRAFFIC stated that while thousands of antique ivory items were still on sale in London, it found no new ivory there. That has to be good news, surely?

Towards the end of this month, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will gather in Johannesburg.


CITES also figures in my novel Blood of theDragon Trees, published by Crooked Cat Publishing.

What’s it about? The blurb runs like this: Laura Reid likes her new job on Tenerife, teaching the Spanish twins Maria and Ricardo Ch├ívez. She certainly doesn’t want to get involved with Andrew Kirby and his pal, Jalbala Emcheta, who work for CITES, tracking down illegal traders in endangered species. Yet she’s undeniably drawn to Andrew, which is complicated, as she’s also attracted to Felipe, the brother of her widower host, Don Alonso.

Felipe’s girlfriend Lola is jealous and Laura is forced to take sides – risking her own life – as she and Andrew uncover the criminal network that not only deals in the products from endangered species, but also thrives on people trafficking. The pair are aided by two Spanish lawmen, Lieutenant Vargas of the Guardia Civil and Ruben Salazar, Inspector Jefe del Grupo de Homicidios de las Canarias.

Very soon betrayal and mortal danger lurk in the shadows, along with the dark deeds of kidnappers and clandestine scuba divers…

Partial Amazon review: Visitors to Tenerife will recognise the beauty of the island in Nik Morton's evocative descriptions of what the island has to offer to the tourist, but few, if any, will recognise the darker side so vividly portrayed in this novel… Nik Morton takes the story along at a fine pace, and readers of his past novels will not be disappointed in his narrative, his characterisation and careful plotting. – Michael Parker, author of The Boy from Berlin and other thrillers.

The reviewer also stated: ‘No doubt the fiction is inspired by Morton's ability as a thriller writer, and not something that he has uncovered by stealth.’ True enough, but I did do a great deal of research, some of it distressing, to comprehend the background of this filthy trade.

As it happens, I was so captivated by some of the characters in this romantic thriller that I used them in the third adventure of ‘The Avenging Cat’, Cataclysm, which is mainly set in China, where the ill-gotten products from the endangered species end up.



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