Insights into the illegal ivory trade and status of elephants in Togo, West Africa

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In Togo, the illegal trade of African elephant (Loxodonta africana ) ivory is widespread despite efforts made by the government to curtail these activities. By using data gathered from CITES institutions and natural resource management authorities in the country, we investigated the extent of ivory trafficking in Togo. We also conducted surveys in villages around protected areas, which still contain elephant populations to assess the species’ current status in the country. Our surveys indirectly corroborated that there are probably no more than 150 elephants collectively within the country's protected areas, most of them in the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park. We also estimated that a minimum of 41.65 tons of ivory (elephant tusks and carved objects) was intercepted in Togo between 2008 and 2018. Despite the fact that presently illegal elephant hunting is unlikely in Togo, we show that this country is the entry point for ivory from Central Africa (Cameroon and Gabon). We maintain that Togo's position as an intermediary country in the illegal ivory trade is a tangible threat to elephants throughout their range countries and is also likely to affect the dwindling population of these animals in the country if adequate enforcement is not implemented.

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