WWF and TRAFFIC: New ETIS Data Show Ivory Trafficking Reaches Historic Levels
New data has been released by Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) that shows ivory trafficking in 2015 reached historic levels seen earlier in the decade.
In response, WWF issued the following statement from Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation and head of delegation to the 17th Conference of Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES).
“The information is extremely worrying. It’s increasingly clear that despite unprecedented global calls to end elephant poaching, international crime syndicates are still shipping vast amounts of ivory out of Africa.
“Saving elephants will require a comprehensive approach. Countries must focus on bringing down the trafficking kingpins, and key domestic ivory markets must be closed to make it harder for criminals to launder their stocks. Further, consumer demand for ivory must be quashed if there’s ever a hope of ending the poaching and trafficking.
“With world governments meeting in South Africa to address wildlife trade, this new information puts added spotlight on those countries most implicated in ivory trafficking. Those who don’t act to end their role in the trade must be held accountable.”
Most striking was the continuing rising trend in large raw ivory shipments of 100 kg or more in 2015, which the analysis describes as worrying given “the large raw ivory weight class is where the activity that relates to organized crime is captured.”
“Ivory trafficking is becoming more and more the realm of organized crime which suggests those behind the trade are not being arrested and effectively prosecuted: dismantling these operations requires a co-ordinated international enforcement response,” said Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC.
“Seizures should not be isolated incidents—there is information to be derived from them that needs to be gathered and acted upon along the entire trade chain.”
In an earlier ETIS analysis carried out for CITES had hinted at signs of a fall in international ivory trafficking in 2014, a result that would have been significant had it been confirmed over an extended time period. However, after new data for 2015 and earlier years was analysed, it revealed a return to ivory flows as high as those previously.
“The 2015 figures underline the crucial need for renewed efforts by governments meeting this week at CITES who need to redouble their efforts to bring the illegal ivory trade firmly under control,” said Broad.
The new data included an additional 1,387 seizure records to the 9,899 cases previously analysed. Of these, 1,311 seizures occurred in 2015, while another 55 cases concerned seizures that happened in 2013 or 2014, and an additional 19 cases were in the period 2008-2012.