BEIJING (30 December 2016) — The end of the world’s largest ivory market was announced today by the Chinese government as it released a detailed timetable for ending its legal ivory trade. Domestic ivory sales will be banned by the end of 2017 with the first batch of factories and traders to close their business by 31 March 2017.
What’s scarier than the goriest slasher film? How about a stuffed tiger fetus? Or what about 45,000 dead seahorses — dried, wrapped in plastic and sitting in a cavernous warehouse full of seized illegal wildlife products?
Frighteningly enough, both – and even worse - can be found at the National Wildlife Property Repository just outside of Denver.
Coleen Schaefer, Supervisory Wildlife Repository Specialist runs the repository for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, providing tours to bring the grim reality of the thousands of animal products trafficked in the U.S. annually. The 22,000-square-foot facility is filled to the rafters with tiger skins, ivory tusks and trinkets, traditional Chinese medicines made from rhino horn and various parts from endangered species.
BANGKOK — Positive news for elephants continues this week with the release of a report detailing Bangkok’s shrinking ivory market. An 18-month survey of Thailand’s capital by TRAFFIC found a 96% drop in the number of ivory products available at retail markets from a high of 7,421 ivory items in 2014 to just 283 products earlier this year. The steep decline follows rigorous actions taken locally to comply with the National Ivory Action Plan.
Thailand’s Elephant Ivory Act regulates the country's legal market in ivory from domesticated elephants. The government has also prohibited the trade and sale of ivory from African elephants by enacting an amendment to the country's existing Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act, making African elephants a protected species in Thailand.
International wildlife trafficking is worth an estimated $10-20 billion per year annually, making it one of the world’s largest illicit trades after illegal drugs, arms and human trafficking. The United States is a chief consumer of wildlife products (both legal and illegal), but a recent poll commissioned by WildAid found 80 percent of Americans know little or nothing about illegal wildlife trade within the United States. As a result, travelers often are unaware that products they bring into the United States are prohibited.
WASHINGTON (June 2, 2016) — In a bold effort to save Africa’s elephants, the Obama Administration has released strong, clear rules aimed at effectively shutting down the U.S. ivory market, one of the world’s largest.
Released Thursday, the final Endangered Species Act special rule for the African elephant substantially limits imports, exports and sales of African elephant ivory across state lines, while carving limited exceptions for certain pre-existing manufactured items, such as musical instruments, furniture pieces and firearms that contain less than 200 grams of ivory. The rule was finalized after a lengthy review period that drew 1.3 million public comments overwhelmingly in favor of protecting elephants.
The new rules issued Thursday by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service follow landmark commitments made last fall by President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to abolish the domestic ivory markets in their respective nations.Hong Kong officials announced in January their intentions to do the same, followed by France, which announced a ban on the ivory trade soon after the historic ivory burn ceremony in Kenya on April 30.
JOHANNESBURG (May 4, 2016) – Prominent South African celebrities have come together to launch a campaign for decisive action to solve the rhino poaching crisis that the nation has grappled with since 2008.
The campaign features well-known South African personalities such as DJ Fresh, Springbok rugby player Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira, comedian Marc Lottering, actress Masasa Mbangeni, DJ Poppy Ntshongwana, Super Rugby players Siya Kolisi, Scarra Ntubeni and Joe Pietersen and model-entrepreneur Maps Maponyane, many of whom visited the bush to see wild rhinos for the first time as part of the campaign.
“There’s a common belief in conservation and government circles that only wealthier, white people are concerned with rhino and the future of wildlife, but our research shows that conservation is strongly supported by people of all races and incomes," said WildAid CEO Peter Knights. "Conservation is a unifying issue in an often deeply divided country. You don’t need money to care about wildlife; your voice matters, too.”
NAIROBI (April 27, 2016) — In the run up to the world's largest-ever ivory bonfire, to be conducted by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) this weekend, popular Afro-pop band Sauti Sol and local radio personality Caroline Mutoko have launched an anti-poaching “hearts and minds” campaign with Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o.
Kenya-based African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and WildAid’s “Poaching Steals from Us All” campaign uses public service announcements, documentary shorts, billboards and social media to urge support for conservation and reporting of wildlife crime. With an initial focus on elephants, the campaign will grow to cover other threatened species, such as lions, rhinos and vultures.
"Many of us know about the poaching crisis, but too many assume that someone else — the government or a conservation group — will take care of it," said Daudi Sumba, Vice President of Program Design for AWF. "If we lose our elephants and other wildlife to this threat, it will not be because we lacked the knowledge or tools to save them, but because we all failed to take ownership of our wildlife heritage. None of us can afford to be bystanders when so much is at stake."
Lupita Nyong'o visits The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's Nairobi Elephant Orphanage
On Saturday, April 30, Kenya Wildlife Service will host the largest ivory burn in history — a bold statement against elephant poaching, and one we hope will mark the beginning of the end for the global ivory trade, which kills an estimated 33,000 elephants every year.
WildAid will be bringing these historic events to a worldwide audience through social media, and we invite you to watch it live.
Our coverage of the event will be carried live via Twitter on Saturday at 3pm in Nairobi (8am in New York), with highlights posted throughout the weekend. In China, WildAid’s Beijing-based team will also be hosting a live mobile stream of The Ivory Burn, as well as projecting a message of support to Kenya onto one of the largest video screens in the world, located in Shanghai’s Bund district.
Today, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying met with a delegation of elephant conservation activists and a group of schoolchildren who hand-delivered a thank you card, commending Leung for his January 2016 policy address where he called for a phase-out of the local ivory trade, one of the world's largest.
WildAid, WWF-Hong Kong and Hong Kong lawmaker Elizabeth Quat have been leading efforts in the city to combat wildlife trafficking and to oppose the legal ivory trade. Together, we've been working in close cooperation with Hong Kong Under Secretary for the Environment Christine Loh to drive this urgent policy change. Banning the ivory trade will reduce consumer demand for ivory carvings and other products, and will have a positive impact on African elephant populations as poaching rates decline.
Yoyo Wong, a five-year-old kindergarten student from Tuen Mun who was at the informal event, said, “Chief Executive, thank you for pledging to save the elephants in Africa. I want to see elephants when I grow up, so please work faster to ban the ivory trade!”
Twenty-six years ago, the world called time on the international trade in elephant ivory, after it had halved African elephant populations within 15 years. Now governments in the US, China and Hong Kong are finally closing the remaining loophole that allowed domestic trade to continue and facilitated a second ivory crisis that has recently been claiming 33,000 elephants a year.
Hopefully, Japan, Thailand and other significant markets will soon follow suit and the elephants can recover. The positive news is that ivory prices have more than halved in China over the past 18 months, that drop apparently starting before the domestic trade bans were announced. Ivory traders at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s jewellery fair this month offered us ivory for US$380 a kilogramme, down to 20 per cent of what it was.
In January, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced in his annual policy address a plan to phase out the local ivory trade. Amazingly, some traders in Hong Kong are calling for compensation for not being able to continue to sell ivory. This would be totally wrong, if not immoral, given the pivotal role of these traders in stockpiling and bending the rules to create the ivory crisis in the first place. It would be like compensating people for knowingly selling stolen goods, because the law had caught up with them.