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Mukula Cartel

In Zambia the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) found that a handful of very high profile figures have apparently orchestrated and facilitated massive trafficking operations for years that are driving mukula rosewood trees to the edge of commercial extinction, devastating vulnerable forests and threatening communities’ livelihoods.

Conservative estimates show that on average over 50 40- foot containers of mukula have been exported monthly from June 2017 to May 2019 (equivalent to over 2,000 cubic meters each month) in breach of export bans, according to EIA's analysis. This illegal trade generates a total of approximately US$7.5 million paid annually in bribes and informal “fees," as traffickers described to investigators. According to the traffickers met by EIA undercover investigators, prominent figures of the Zambian government and political sphere, including President Edgar Lungu, his daughter Tasila Lungu, Given Lubinda (Minister of Justice), and Jean Kapata (Minister of Lands and Natural Resources), are central figures in this illicit network. If not dismantled, this mukula cartel* has the power to derail the international protection recently granted to the rare African trees under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). At the current rate of exploitation, the rosewood species may soon be extinct.

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Recent Blog Posts

Civil Society Statement on the Weakening of Institutions and Governance in the Forest Sector
03/13/2020
Civil Society Statement on the Weakening of Institutions and Governance in the Forest Sector
New global protection measures for threatened rosewood trees start this week
11/25/2019
A number of threatened tree species have been given a new lease on life. At its 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP18) in August 2019, CITES granted protection to several species – adding them to Appendix II of the binding global wildlife treaty. Ninety days after the decisions were taken in Geneva, the listings for mukula and mulanje cedar are now coming into effect.

Recent Reports

Cashing-In On Chaos
06/03/2020
Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)’s three-year investigation into the Senegal-Gambia-China rosewood traffic uncovered unprecedented evidence on a series of major forest crimes.
Mukula Cartel
12/05/2019
In Zambia the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) found that a handful of very high profile figures have apparently orchestrated and facilitated massive trafficking operations for years that are driving mukula rosewood trees to the edge of commercial extinction, devastating vulnerable forests and threatening communities’ livelihoods.

Recent Press Releases

Exposed: The Gambia’s Blood Wood Trafficking
06/03/2020
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)’s new report, Cashing-In On Chaos, conclusively establishes links between timber trafficking controlled by Senegalese armed rebels; the decade-long smuggling of an estimated 1.6 million trees from Senegal to The Gambia; and the illegal re-export of the disappearing rosewood trees to China, in violation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Some of EIA’s findings are featured in the BBC’s documentary The Trees That Bleed: How rosewood is smuggled from Senegal into Gambia, released in March 2020.
EIA looks forward to the release of an uncensored rosewood investigative report by the Ghanaian government
01/23/2020
EIA looks forward to the release of an uncensored rosewood investigative report by the Ghanaian government
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