08 June 2014

Wildlife as serious crime and Prunus africana for sale...two dilemmas for a Sunday afternoon

While smashing my brains trying to narrow down the subject of my Master Thesis, I felt compelled to read again (for the 1000th time) Bryan Christy's article on National Geographic about illegal wildlife trade, or I should better say about the Kingpin...anyway, I went back to the article. This time however, I am reading it with new eyes. The month spent in Baeza studying the CITES Convention intensively has taught me so many things already that I actually understand much better the implications and the many illegalities commited by the organised wildlife criminals.

I am trying to look now into the practical consequences of having stricter legislation on wildlife illegal trade (seen as serious crime with higher penalties and higher jail sentences) but I must say that I am not beeing very sucessful today. It seems to me that criminals do not really care about the potential jail sentences. They just smuggle, bribe, establish fake captive breeding facilities and literally hide little birds in their pants...and if they are caught, tant pis! as French say....would the potential threat of higher sentences disuade them not to illegally trade? I do not think so...but I better go back to the ICCWC Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytical Toolkit and read some more...

Anyway, and coming back to international illegal trade, Bryan mentioned in his article a website called vorras.net, and I have looked at it with great curiosity. It has taken me only 5 minutes to find what looks like a totally illicit transaction: someone from Kenya is selling Prunus africana bark (red stinkwood). 

It seems that the extract from the bark is used to prepare alternative remedies to (try to) cure prostate cancer.

The link with the offer of red stinkwood bark is here below:

I might be totally wrong, but a quick look at Species+ tells me that Prunus africana is listed in CITES Appendix II and Kenya has a zero quota from 2014 (as it had for 2013, 2012 and 2011). Therefore, it seems to me that this offer of stinkwood bark harvested in Kenya smells a bit rotten...or in other words, it is illegal. 

Kenya is one of the countries that I was consdering looking at in my Thesis, so I take this "discovery" as a sign. Other than that, I have now two problems: what do I do with my Master Thesis and who do I report this illegal offer to?

If any of you has an answer for any of these questions, I am all ears!!

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