Governments commit to stamp out illegal ivory trade

Urgent measures against the illegal ivory trade have been agreed upon by key states in an effort to help save the African elephant

The year 2011 saw the highest levels of illegal ivory trading for 16 years and preliminary figures suggest 2013 could be even higher, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

An estimated 500,000 African elephants remain in the world, and have subsequently been included on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.

The African Elephant Summit in December 2013 attempted to address the issue by looking at the entire ivory supply chain – the first meeting of its kind to do so. It was convened by the IUCN and the government of Botswana.

Gabon, Kenya, Niger and Zambia were among the African elephant range states involved, along with ivory transit states such as Vietnam and Malaysia, and ivory destination states, including China and Thailand.

Fourteen measures were agreed upon, which governments must begin implementing by the end of 2014. They include taking a zero tolerance approach to wildlife crime, registering ivory stockpiles and forming a network of forensic laboratories to determine the origin of seized ivory.

“Collectively the measures do a great job of putting together the suite of solutions that are needed,” said Wendy Elliott, who leads WWF’s Illegal Wildlife Trade campaign. “The key now is action and making sure these governments are held accountable for what they’ve committed to.”