Monitoring of illegal trade in ivory and other elephant specimens

Monitoring of illegal trade in ivory and other elephant specimens

Addressing the illicit trade in ivory

Examining the factors that give rise to illicit trade in elephant ivory, the conclusions in this paper include:

  • illicit ivory most typically flows through and into domestic ivory markets which lack effective law enforcement and regulatory control
  • the occurrence of large-scale seizures of ivory has become far more frequent and larger in scale in the recent period 1998-2006
  • large-scale ivory seizures are indicative of the involvement of organized crime operations which link source countries with end-use markets. Such operations often have links to local political, economic or military elites
  • effectively addressing this issue in terms of awareness and law enforcement strategies, will require collaborative efforts of both producing and consuming countries
  • there are governance implications at all levels of the ivory trade. Unless governance issues are firmly addressed at the national level, successful implementation of the CITES action plan will be seriously compromised in Africa

Recommendations proposed in the paper include:

  • the action plan for the control of trade in African elephant ivory (ETIS Decision 13.26) should remain in force and be strengthened. In particular, the process needs to be made more transparent and accountable
  • Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Thailand have shown little evidence of effective implementation of the provisions for internal ivory trade, and should therefore be prioritised with respect to the implementation of Decision 13.26
  • continued oversight attention on China should be maintained
  • due to an increase in illegal trade in ivory to Japan in recent years, Japan should be encouraged to continue to implement and enforce its domestic ivory trade control policy strictly
  • other countries of concern in the cluster analysis should be carefully monitored in the context of the Decision 13.26 process
  • Asian and African elephant range states, transit countries and end-use consumers should be encouraged to improve their participation in ETIS, review their national law enforcement data and send information on seizures in a timely manner in the future
  • capacity-building events to improve implementation of the Convention and law enforcement for wildlife trade issues should include modules which promote participation in ETIS and address ivory trade issues