Elephant ivory is plummeting in value throughout China, according to new data released Monday by Save the Elephants. Despite soaring prices for illegal ivory from 2010 to 2014, researchers Esmond Martin and Lucy Vigne report that raw ivory prices in China have fallen by half over the past 18 months — from $2,100 (USD) per kilogram to $1,100.
In their survey of eight Chinese cities, the researchers observed that consumer demand for ivory is in apparent free-fall. China’s ivory carving factories reported a severe shortage in tusks, and government-issued IDs required to legally sell ivory had been delayed. Save the Elephants will publish Martin and Vigne’s full findings next month.
The new data coincides with broader awareness and changing attitudes in China, where public knowledge of Africa’s elephant-poaching crisis doubled from 2012 to 2014, according to a March report by WildAid, Save the Elephants and African Wildlife Foundation. At the same time, the Chinese government has made progressive steps to control the illegal ivory market, culminating in President Xi Jinping’s September announcement that China and the United States would work together to halt the ivory trade.
Of the handful of locations that account for the majority of manta fishers, the central Indonesian village of Lamakera is at the top and is considered the world’s largest manta fishing site. Villagers here have conducted traditional manta hunts for many generations, but with the arrival of the gill plate trade in the early 2000s, the community converted to diesel engines and transformed to a full-scale commercial fishery, landing over 1,000 mantas in a single season.
Since then, the fishing intensity has only increased, sending the manta population into a downward spiral. Having documented this grisly hunt, we wondered how could we possibly mobilize action to save this vanishing species before it was too late? We had to act but needed international and domestic support first to make it happen.
WildAid's "Ivory Free" message is spreading throughout East and Southeast Asia, and now includes a campaign in Thailand, a primary market for ivory products.
Joining such WildAid ambassadors as Thai martial arts star Tony Jaa are three popular sports stars: Coach "Zico" Kiatisuk Senmamuang of Thailand’s national football team, and rising soccer players "Jay" Chanathip Songkrasin and "Kong" Kroekrit Thaweekarn, who recently came together to film a PSA in Bangkok for the campaign.
This week we were exhilarated to see the worldwide premiere of Racing Extinctionon Discovery.
The film is the latest work from director Louie Psihoyos, who won an Academy Award for Best Documentary with The Cove in 2009. We're proud and humbled that our shark and manta campaigns are featured in the new film, which documents and exposes the worst of the illegal wildlife trade — a multibillion-dollar global enterprise that threatens the survival of elephants, rhinos and countless marine species.
Judge Francis Legodi of the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa yesterday set aside a moratorium on the in-country rhino horn trade, causing consternation in conservation circles worldwide. Two prominent wildlife farmers (including John Hume, the world’s largest rhino owner) had applied to the court to overturn the moratorium, which they claimed was irrational, unreasonable and a violation of their constitutional rights.
The moratorium was imposed in 2009 by the environment ministry because of its view that the domestic trade was providing a loophole through which poached horn was flowing into international trafficking networks. Supporters of the moratorium argue that because there is no substantive consumer market for rhino horn in South Africa, there is little incentive for South Africans to trade horn unless it is ultimately being sold on highly profitable Asian black markets.
Judge Legodi set aside the moratorium because of procedural errors made by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) just prior to it coming into effect and not because he agrees with the wildlife farmers’ substantive arguments regarding the rationality, reasonableness and constitutionality of the moratorium.
In crude terms, the judge struck down the moratorium on technicalities, not because he found the rhino farmers’ core arguments to be valid.