ORGANIZED ILLEGAL TRADE IN LIVE GORILLAS
Gorillas are listed in Appendix I of the Convention on Interna- tional Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). As such, international trade for commercial purposes is prohibited. CITES is a trade-related convention, and sub- sequently, does not address many of the threats faced by this species, such as habitat loss, disease, conflict with humans or domestic consumption of gorilla meat. Consequently, the pri- mary role for CITES in supporting the conservation of gorillas is in combating illegal cross-border movement of either live animals or their parts or derivatives. Whilst some international trade is suspected to take place in gorilla meat or body parts, this appears to be very limited and seems to take place between neighbouring gorilla range States, as opposed to the often inter- continental trade that affects many CITES-listed species.
At the international level, trade in gorillas has primarily been driven by zoos, or facilities describing themselves as zoos, and persons who own private collections of rare species. Destina- tions for such trade have included South East Asia and the
A great number of primates captured for trade die, even if they are rescued. Estimates suggest that for every chimpanzee, go- rilla or bonobo entering the pet trade, 10–50 more will have died in hunting camps or en route to cities (IFAW & BCTF, 2003).
Redmond (2002a) used a multiplier of 15 gorillas removed from the population for each infant that reaches competent care, based on the 80 per cent mortality of infants arriving at the Brazzaville gorilla orphanage prior to 1989, when improved veterinary care lowered this rate, and at least two adults being killed for each infant – thus: (1infant+2adults)x5=15 gorillas, one alive and 14 dead. This means that the six gorillas report- ed to have been held by Ibadan Zoo prior to shipment of the Taiping Four probably represented 84 dead gorillas, and 90 lost to the wild population. (Ape Alliance, WSPA, 2006)
Middle East. Since the smuggling of gorillas is, understandably, difficult, because of their size, weight and tendency for violence towards humans, it usually involves juvenile specimens. Re- moving juvenile gorillas from the wild invariably necessitates the killing of their mothers, and perhaps other members of the family group, and is, thus, particularly destructive to the spe- cies as a whole. Several juvenile lowland gorillas not native to the Virungas, for example, have been confiscated from the local population and kept at an emergency sanctuary constructed at VNP headquarters, suggesting that this trade is absolutely real. Regrettably, some of the cases of gorilla smuggling that have attracted widespread notice, have also involved the deliberate circumvention of CITES controls by zoological institutes and the corruption of national CITES officials; the very places and persons who should be working to protect such animals.
In late 2006, the CITES Great Ape Enforcement Task Force was established. It brought together representatives of great ape range States in Africa and Asia, together with the GRASP and CITES Secretariats, INTERPOL, the Lusaka Agreement Task Force, and the World Customs Organization (WCO). The Task Force exchanged information about illegal trade and un- dertook to obtain more.
Following the collation of intelligence relating to illegal trade in great apes, the CITES Secretariat issued one of its Alerts on this subject. CITES Alerts are distributed to the law enforcement community and provide intelligence to help target smugglers and supply information relating to concealment techniques, smuggling routes, illicit dealers, etc. The Task Force recognized that since ownership of primates as pets is not uncommon in many parts of the world, apes may be moved across borders, within sight of border control officers and Customs officers, who fail to realize that anything illegal is taking place. Assisted by NGOs who work in the area of primate conservation, the Task Force distributed posters, for display at borders and in