A tale of two African cities–Ivory trade comparisons in Khartoum/Omdurman and Addis Ababa

Lucy Vigne


During a short visit to Sudan and Ethiopia in April 2017, the author learned that in Sudan the wholesale price of raw ivory was USD 279/kg for a 1-3 kg tusk. Souvenir shops seen in Khartoum/Omdurman numbered 56, and ivory items on view numbered 7,073. Several shops were selling significant quantities of recently-carved ivory items. Prices for both wholesale tusks and retail ivory items had more than doubled since 2005. Chinese were still the main customers. Most items were pendants and bangles. Ethiopia, in contrast, has improved its law enforcement efforts and justice system considerably following the government’s confiscation of ivory items from the shops in Addis Ababa in 2015, along with extra vigilance at the airport, and penalties implemented. No ivory items were seen any longer in the souvenir shops. Ethiopian officials, with support from the Chinese Embassy and others, must be commended for their ongoing law enforcement efforts and success. It is hoped the successful law enforcement strategies in Ethiopia can be emulated in Sudan.

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