New analysis points to ivory enforcement failures in parts of Africa, Asia

March 17, 2010

Urgent law enforcement action by governments in Central and West Africa and South-east Asia is crucial to addressing the illicit ivory trade, according to a new analysis of elephant trade data released today.

Detailed regional summaries of the data held in the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), the world's largest database on ivory seizures, highlight the failure of law enforcement in key elephant range States facing an increasing threat from organised crime and the presence of unregulated markets.

The re-analysis comes as 175 governments meet in Qatar for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), where they will consider issues.

"It's clearer than ever that governance shortfalls and weak enforcement allow illicit ivory trade to go unchecked in West and Central Africa and in South-East Asia, where large domestic ivory markets openly sell ivory illegally," said Tom Milliken of TRAFFIC, who undertook the ETIS analysis.

"What's needed is urgent action by government enforcement agencies in these regions and strong collaboration with counterparts in Asia where many of the current seizures are being made."

"If there was adequate political will, a commitment to law enforcement would shut down the illegal markets and check corruption. That isn't happening." Milliken said.

ETIS is compiled by TRAFFIC on behalf of CITES, and comprises more than 15,400 ivory seizure cases compiled over the last 21 years.

The re-analysis of the data was made by region rather than by country, and was carried out to align the data with MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of ), another of the CITES tools used to monitor poaching, which also shows that the Central African region is losing the most elephants.

"Until this strengthened law enforcement happens, ivory will continue to leak out of " said Elisabeth McLellan, Species Manager, WWF International.

"We're not talking small-time smugglers here, we're talking hardened, organized criminal gangs," McLellan said.

Explore further: Ivory poaching at critical levels: Elephants on path to extinction by 2020?

More information: The analysis can be downloaded from the CITES website at:

Related Stories

Elephant-size loopholes sustain Thai ivory trade

June 19, 2009

Legal loopholes and insufficient law enforcement mean that Thailand continues to harbour the largest illegal ivory market in Asia, says a new report from the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.

Rhino poaching surges in Asia, Africa

December 1, 2009

Rhino poaching worldwide is on the rise, according to a new report by TRAFFIC and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Recommended for you

Study suggests fish can experience 'emotional fever'

November 25, 2015

(—A small team of researchers from the U.K. and Spain has found via lab study that at least one type of fish is capable of experiencing 'emotional fever,' which suggests it may qualify as a sentient being. In their ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.