Tanzania Just Held A Controversial Auction Of 3.5 Tons Of Hippo Teeth

Shockingly, authorities in Tanzania just conducted an auction of an estimated 3.5 tons of hippo teeth.

Licensed dealers reportedly bid for the 12,500 pieces of hippo teeth at the tourism and natural resources ministry in the East African nation’s commercial hub of Dar es Salaam.

According to Xinhuanet, Ontour Tanzania Limited Company purchased 12,467 pieces of the teeth weighing 3,580kg for approximately $15,000.00 U.S. dollars at the auction that was conducted by Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA), a government agency overseeing sustainable management of wildlife resource and biodiversity conservation.

Born Free was among many organizations expressing deep concerns that the auction could increase poaching and further threaten the future of the species across key areas of its range.

Classified as ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, there are an estimated 115,000 – 130,000 hippos across 29 countries with numbers declining in recent years due to habitat loss and hunting for their meat and teeth.

It’s interesting to note that the African elephant, which rightly is the focus of much international attention and concern, numbers about 400,000 in the wild but are sadly in decline.

A 2001 census suggested there was 20,000 hippo in Tanzania at the time, but its numbers have fallen since then, a concern supported by the fact that Tanzania suspended permits for the export of hippo teeth in 2004.

Informal research also suggests that as pressure grows to end the sale of elephant ivory, hippo ivory is sadly entering the trade.

“As the world moves towards tackling elephant poaching and the illegal global ivory trade by closing domestic ivory markets, we must ensure that other ivory-bearing species such as hippo are afforded effective protection,” said Born Free Foundation President and Co-Founder Will Travers in a statement. “We are urging Michael Gove to introduce a total ban on all ivory sales, and to prohibit the import and export of ivory to and from the UK. We further urge the UK government and the international community to support measures to conserve all ivory-bearing species that are increasingly impacted by the wildlife trade, without delay. Saving elephants but losing hippos is not an option – not on our watch.”

Hippo teeth are primarily carved into ornaments, art, and souvenirs for sale in parts of Asia.

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