Appetite for Ivory Kills 4,000 Elephants a Year
GLAND, Switzerland, September 16, 2004 (ENS) - More than 4,000 elephants are losing their lives each year to meet the demand for ivory from Africa and Asia, according to a new report published ahead of the upcoming meeting of Parties to the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It shows that the volume of illegal ivory seizures across the world has increased since 1995.
China, followed by Thailand, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Nigeria are the most important suppliers, manufacturers and customers of illegal ivory, according to the latest analysis of data from the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS).
The report, "Monitoring of Illegal Hunting in Elephant Range States" is published by a programme of the CITES Secretariat, which regulates the international trade in endangered species. The 166 governments that are Parties to the CITES treaty will meet from October 2 to 14 in Bangkok to update the rules for international wildlife trade.
The report says the impact of the illegal ivory trade is particularly bad in Central Africa, where elephant populations are threatened by poaching.
The illegal trade is thriving under the guise of legal trading of domestic ivory within the borders of individual countries, TRAFFIC reports
WWF and TRAFFIC call on Thailand to tighten its laws regulating domestic ivory markets, which according to WWF are inadequate to tackle the country’s flourishing ivory trade.
Within Africa, where the illegal ivory trade remains rampant, there have been no improvements in DRC, Nigeria and Cameroon over the past two years. Furthermore, Angola, Mozambique, and Sudan, are emerging as problem countries.
But in China, while demand is strong, the past two years have brought improved law enforcement that has resulted in increased ivory seizures and better monitoring.
The report criticizes the United States for lax regulation of its ivory market and Singapore for failing to report any ivory seizures in recent years.
ETIS is a comprehensive information system to track illegal trade in ivory and other elephant products. It aims to record and analyze levels and trends in illegal trade of ivory.
The central component of ETIS is a database on seizures of elephant specimens that have occurred anywhere in the world since 1989. The seizure database is supported by a series of subsidiary database components that assess law enforcement effort and efficiency, rates of reporting, domestic ivory markets and background economic variables.
Based on a statistical analysis of more than 9,400 elephant product seizure records held in the Elephant Trade Information System, the report will be a formal agenda item for discussion at the CITES meeting in Bangkok.
WWF will be urging countries there to increase their commitment to law enforcement and for those with domestic markets to increase their efforts to close legal loopholes and shut down the trade.