Pemba, Mozambique (CNN)It’s no secret where the ivory deals take place in Pemba.
Despite a new blanket ban on the ivory trade in China, the closest major city to Mozambique’s largest nature reserve remains a smuggling hotspot for criminal gangs.
In shabby three-star resorts and half-empty Chinese trading offices, illicit deals are discussed freely, especially the illegal trade in ivory.
Posing undercover as ivory middlemen, an investigator is invited into a Chinese investment center near the international airport to talk business. The red-brick, two-story building is like many of its kind, where everything from cheap fashions to toilet seats are on sale.
They meet in an internet café inside the building and within minutes a conversation with a Chinese trader has turned to ivory.”I have two tusks,” our man tells the trader, flipping through photos of ivory on his smart phone, and promises to have a steady supply ready to export.”How many meters do you have?” the potential Chinese buyer asked in broken Portuguese, “can you get ten meters?”Haggling ensues.
The trader questions whether he can get the ivory into China.”That’s a crime,” he says.
It’s either a negotiating tactic to lower the price or a sign that new laws in China are having an impact.But will those laws stop the slaughter?