ivory trade


  • “[86] One of the main concerns of the conference was specifically on reevaluating the measures already in place to protect African elephants and the illegal trade of their

  • [4] The international deliberations over the measures required to prevent the serious decline in elephant numbers almost always ignored the loss of human life in Africa, the
    fueling of corruption, the “currency” of ivory in buying arms, and the breakdown of law and order in areas where illegal ivory trade flourished.

  • However, the species is still threatened by the ivory trade, and many conservationists have supported the African ivory trade ban because evidence shows that ivory traders
    are not concerned whether their raw material is from Africa or Asia.

  • [8][9] Although many ivory traders repeatedly claimed that the problem was habitat loss, it became glaringly clear that the threat was primarily the international ivory trade.

  • [32] Renewed sales[edit] Using criteria that had been agreed upon at the 1989 CITES meeting, among much controversy and debate, in 1997 CITES parties agreed to allow the populations
    of African elephants in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe to be “downlisted” to Appendix Two which would allow international trade in elephant parts.

  • However, its role in the illegal ivory trade and slaughter of elephants in neighbouring countries was exposed in numerous news articles of the time, as part of its policy
    of destabilisation of its neighbours.

  • [53] A study funded by Save the Elephants showed than the price of ivory tripled in China during four years following 2011 when stockpile destruction of ivory became more

  • CITES debate, attempted control and the 1989 ivory ban[edit] Some CITES parties (member states), led by Zimbabwe, stated that wildlife had to have economic value attached
    to it to survive and that local communities needed to be involved.

  • CITES had created a system which increased the value of ivory on the international market, rewarded international smugglers and gave them the ability to control the trade
    and continue smuggling new ivory.

  • They finished their appeal by describing the poaching crisis of the 1980s, and emphasized that the decision to ban ivory was not made to punish southern African countries,
    but to save the elephants in the rest of the world.

  • Although, WWF and TRAFFIC, which supported the China sale, describe the increase in illegal ivory trade a possible “coincidence,”[51] others are less cautious.

  • [40] The rise of Asia, modern European trade and the modern poaching crisis[edit] Esmond Martin has said, “When the exchange restrictions imposed upon Japan after the Second
    World War were lifted during the late 1960s, it began importing huge amounts of raw ivory.”

  • Born Free Foundation CEO Will Travers said that, “Even if we managed to close down all the unregulated markets around the world, there would still be a demand for illegal
    ivory coming from countries such as China and Japan.

  • [48] Illegal ivory continues to flow into Japan’s ivory market,[49] but since 2012, the demand for ivory has decreased as a result of new consumer awareness through education
    about the connection between buying ivory and the killing of elephants.

  • [55][56] At the 2014 Tokyo Conference on Combating Wildlife crime, United Nations University and ESRI presented the first case of evidence-based policy-making maps on enforcement
    and compliance of CITES convention where illegal ivory seizures were mapped out along with poaching incidences[57][58] The ivory trade has steadily been a reoccurring problem that dwindled down the population of the African elephants and the
    white rhino.

  • [7][10] Despite these public revelations by the EIA, and followed by media exposures and appeals from African countries and a range of well-respected organisations around
    the world, WWF only came out in support of a ban in mid-1989, indicating the importance of the “lethal use” principle of wildlife to WWF and CITES; even then, the group attempted to water down decisions at the October 1989 meeting of CITES.

  • A report by the Japan Wildlife Conservation Society warned that the price of ivory jumped due to price fixing by a small number of manufacturers who controlled the bulk of
    the ivory—similar to the control of stocks when stockpiles were amnestied in the 1980s.

  • Ivory has been traded for hundreds of years by people in Africa and Asia, resulting in restrictions and bans.

  • [33] Forty-nine tonnes of ivory was registered in these three countries, and Japan’s assertion that it had sufficient controls in place was accepted by CITES and the ivory
    was sold to Japanese traders in 1997 as an “experiment”.

  • The southern African countries continue to attempt to sell ivory through legal systems.

  • [6] Southern African opposition to the ban[edit] Throughout the debate which led to the 1990 ivory ban, a group of southern African countries supported Hong Kong and Japanese
    ivory traders to maintain trade.

  • [35] The two systems, Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) and Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), have been highly criticised as a waste of money for
    not being able to prove or disprove any causality between ivory stockpile sales and poaching levels—perhaps the most significant reason for their establishment.

  • [64] A 101 East report named Hong Kong as “one of the biggest ivory laundering centres in the world [where] legitimate operations are used to mask a far more sinister, more
    lucrative business”.

  • In many African countries, domestic markets have grown, providing easy access to ivory, although the Asian ivory syndicates are most destructive buying and shipping tonnes
    at a time.

  • However, many of those on the ground claimed that the sale had changed the perception of ivory, and many poachers and traders believed they were back in business.

  • This was stated to be because these countries claimed to have well-managed elephant populations and they needed the revenue from ivory sales to fund conservation.

  • In an appeal to overcome national interests, a group of eminent elephant scientists responded with an open letter in 2002 which clearly explained the effects of the ivory
    trade on other countries.

  • “[6] To demonstrate the lack of ivory controls in China, the EIA leaked an internal Chinese document showing how 121 tonnes of ivory from its own official stockpile (equivalent
    to the tusks from 11,000 elephants) could not be accounted for, a Chinese official admitting “this suggests a large amount of illegal sale of the ivory stockpile has taken place.

  • However, the decision was accompanied by “registering” stockpiles within these countries and examining trade controls in any designated importing country.

  • [46] The announcement was welcomed by conservation group WWF, who called it a “historic announcement… signalling an end to the world’s primary legal ivory market and a major
    boost to international efforts to tackle the elephant poaching crisis.

  • One such article reported “William Hague said the deal would “mark the turning point in the fight to save endangered species and to end the illegal wildlife trade”.

  • [39] Before the sale took place, in the wings China was seeking approval as an ivory destination country.

  • Although both countries were implicated as entrepôts in illegal ivory from other African countries, WWF, with strong ties to both countries, found itself in a difficult position.

  • Since China was given “approved buyer” status by CITES, the smuggling of ivory seems to have increased alarmingly.

  • “[54] Based on these findings, the study authors recommended action to both reduce demand for ivory in China and other main markets and to decrease corruption and poverty
    in Africa.

  • 532 elephant tusks and over 40,000 blank ivory hankos were seized, and the EIA carried out investigations which showed that this case had been preceded by 19 other suspected
    ivory shipments, four destined for China and the rest for Singapore, though often en route to Japan.

  • This started to put pressure on the forest elephants of Africa and Asia, both of which were used to supply the hard ivory preferred by the Japanese for the production of hanko,
    name seal stamps used like a signature.

  • China, yet to become the economic force of today, consumed small amounts of ivory to keep its skilled carvers in business.

  • It is believed that a legal loophole that allows for the trading of old ivory masks the sale of items made of ivory from more recently killed elephants.

  • [6][7] African elephant[edit] 1980s poaching and illegal trade[edit] In 1979, the African elephant population was estimated to be around 1.3 million in 37 range states, but
    by 1989, only 600,000 remained.

  • By the 1970s, Japan consumed about 40% of the global trade; another 40% was consumed by Europe and North America, often worked in Hong Kong, which was the largest trade hub,
    with most of the rest remaining in Africa.

  • Finally at that October meeting of CITES after heated debates, the African elephant was put on Appendix One of CITES, and three months later in January 1990 when the decision
    was enacted, the international trade in ivory was banned.

  • In the same year, CITES agreed to the establishment of two systems to inform its member states on the status of illegal killing and trade.

  • [7][10] Large parts of the stockpiles were owned by international criminals behind the poaching and illegal international trade.

  • [7][10] Further failures of this “control” system were uncovered by the EIA when they gained undercover access and filmed ivory carving factories run by Hong Kong traders,
    including Poon, in the United Arab Emirates.

  • The government argued the ivory trade would fund conservation efforts, but revenues were instead returned to the central treasury.

  • They stated that the proposals for renewed trade from southern Africa did not bear comparison with most of Africa because they were based on a South African model where 90%
    of the elephant population lived in a fenced National Park.

  • In 1986, CITES introduced a new control system involving CITES paper permits, registration of huge ivory stockpiles and monitoring of legal ivory movements.

  • While 46 countries signed this agreement, it was reported in 2015 by The Guardian that the elephant poaching crisis was still unimproved.

  • [63] In terms of retail trade of elephant ivory, Hong Kong is the largest market in the world, and has been criticised for fueling the slaughter of elephants to meet the demand
    of customers principally from mainland China.

  • The effect of the sale of ivory to Japan in 2000 was hotly debated with Traffic, the organization which compiled the ETIS and MIKE databases, claiming they could not determine
    any link.

  • [44][45] China’s State Council has announced that China is banning all ivory trade and processing activities by the end of 2017.

  • Ivory was widely accepted in terms of non-lethal use of wildlife, but a debate raged over lethal use as in the case of the ivory trade.

  • [36][37] They do pull together information on poaching and seizures as provided by member states, although not all states provide comprehensive data.

  • [54] The study found that the “annual poaching rates in 53 sites strongly correlate with proxies of ivory demand in the main Chinese markets, whereas between-country and between-site
    variation is strongly associated with indicators of corruption and poverty.

  • [78][79] In 2018, a study by Avaaz sponsored by Oxford University indicated that legal antique ivory trading in the European Union continues to fuel the poaching of elephants.

  • [80] As a source of terrorism funding[edit] Claims of a link between terrorism and the ivory trade have been made by a number of public officials and media outlets.

  • Japan’s ivory controls were seriously questioned with 25% of traders not even registered, voluntary rather than legal requirement of traders, and illegal shipments entering

  • [15] The two countries leading the attempt to overturn the ban immediately after it was agreed were South Africa and Zimbabwe.

  • It was recognised that the “sustainable lethal use of wildlife” argument was in jeopardy if the ivory trade could not be controlled.

  • They claimed that their elephant populations were well managed and they wanted revenue from ivory sales to fund conservation.

  • [34] In 2000, South Africa also “downlisted” its elephant population to CITES Appendix Two with a stated desire to sell its ivory stockpile.

  • [90] The ban, when it comes into effect, has been described one of the “world’s toughest” ivory bans and effectively bans the buying and selling of all available form of ivory
    in the UK bar some narrow exemptions.

  • It has been reported that it was not simply the act of the Appendix One listing and various national bans associated with it, but the enormous publicity surrounding the issue
    prior to the decision and afterwards, that created a widely accepted perception that the trade was harmful and now illegal.

  • Martin said that Chinese carvers mainly sold ivory products to neighbors in the 1990s and not to internal buyers in China: “These were supplying shops selling trinkets to
    tourists and businessmen from Asian countries such as Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia, where the anti-ivory culture wasn’t so strong, They were also exporting worked ivory wholesale to neighbouring countries.

  • [50] China’s increased involvement in infrastructure projects in Africa and the purchase of natural resources has alarmed many conservationists who fear the extraction of
    wildlife body parts is increasing.

  • [27] Southern African countries have continued to push for the international ivory trade.

  • [11] EIA confirmed with their investigations that not only had these syndicates made enormous wealth, but they also possessed huge quantities of CITES permits with which they
    continued to smuggle new ivory, which if stopped by customs, they produced the paper permit.

  • “[31] However, the southern Africans have always been in a minority within the African elephant range states.

  • [94] The natives are permitted to sell the ivory of the hunted walrus to non–natives as long as it is reported to a United States Fish and Wildlife Service representative,
    tagged and fashioned into some type of handicraft.

  • [54] In 2012, The New York Times reported on a large upsurge in ivory poaching, with about 70% flowing to China.


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