4.5 tons of ivory seized thanks to UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme

Wildlife and forest crimes have important political repercussions as an increasing number of people around the world considers these crimes to be a pressing environmental and development issue. Indeed, as nearly 50% of the world's species are facing the fastest man-made mass extinction, illicit wildlife trafficking negatively impacts on the economic and social development of a number of African countries, posing threat to their peace and security.

To tackle these problems, UNODC uses an integrated approach to detect and prevent these crimes from going unpunished. As an example of successful cooperation between UNODC and African governments, Togolese authorities have recently seized 4.5 tons of ivory at its maritime port in the capital Lomé.

This seizure was orchestrated thanks to the joint UNODC - World Customs Organization Container Control Programme. Following the seizure, crucial information was acquired regarding the routes employed by ivory traffickers, who perpetrated their crimes on forest and savannah elephants from Central and Eastern Africa respectively. The main destinations of such shipments were meant to be East and South East Asia, illustrating the global scale of these illicit phenomena. It is estimated that over 20,000 elephants are killed every year for their ivory, out of a total population of less than 500,000.


The United Nations has recently established a World Wildlife Day, on 3 March, to celebrate the varied forms of wild fauna and flora and raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that conservation provides to people. Marking the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in March 3, 1973, the World Wildlife Day also serves the key function of raising consciousness of the extent and impacts of these illicit activities, particularly worrisome for countries where organized crime, insurgency and terrorism are closely linked.

The Container Control Programme is key to halt the trafficking of protected fauna and flora, such as shark fins, sea cucumbers and timber, as well as additional forms of transnational illicit trade. For instance, since the beginning of the Programme in 2006, more than 95 metric tons of cocaine, 60 metric tons of cannabis and 2.9 tons of heroin were seized in containers. Many arrests also followed these seizures, dismantling a number of regional and international trafficking networks.

The Global Programme for Combating Wildlife Crime and the Container Control Programme conduct numerous activities, trainings and workshops to reduce the incidence of these illegal activities on security and development efforts throughout the region. 

For more information:

UNODC Container Control Programme

United Nations World Wildlife Day

United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

UNODC Global Programme for Combating Wildlife Crime

United Nations World Wildlife Day Campaign