Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

EU brings in stricter measures to tackle illegal ivory trade

Posted: 23 May 2017


A growing demand for ivory in Asia has led to an escalation of the illegal trade, with reportedly 20,000-30,000 African elephants now killed by poachers every year, resulting in widespread decline in the species.

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) international trade in ivory is banned. There are however exemptions such as items acquired before trade restrictions to protect elephants came into effect (pre-Convention). CITES also does not regulate “domestic” trade within countries or continents.

At the most recent CITES meeting in 2016, which ADI attended to provide expert evidence and advice, one resolution urged the 183 countries who are signatories to CITES to put in place measures to “close their domestic markets for commercial trade in raw and worked ivory as a matter of urgency”. In addition, the EU Action Plan against wildlife trafficking stated that the European Commission should issue guidelines to suspend the export of raw pre-Convention ivory by the end of 2016.

In response to these calls the European Commission issued a guidance document for Council Regulation 338/97, which regulates wildlife trade in the EU, urging Member States not to issue export documents for raw ivory and to “strengthen scrutiny” on the trade in worked ivory, which includes items such as musical instruments and antiques.

With raw ivory currently the biggest share of the illegal market worldwide – and legal exports from the EU to Asia seeing a marked increase over the last few years – it is envisaged this measure will be an important step in addressing the illegal trade and elephant poaching crisis. As with the international CITES ban there are exceptions with the export of raw ivory permitted between institutions such as museums, as heirloom moved due to family relocation, and if moved for enforcement, scientific or educational purposes.

The EU chose not to recommend an export ban for worked ivory items as “it is not clear whether a complete suspension of re-export for such items would have a tangible impact against international illegal ivory trade”.

ADI supports and calls for a complete ban on ivory – please join us today!

How you can help elephants

    • Ask your political representative to support measures to end the ivory trade and combat poaching

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