China’s Destruction of Ivory means it is time for EU to Act

Monday, January 6, 2014
Beijng, China

Today in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, the Chinese Government destroyed over 6 tonnes of confiscated elephant ivory and ivory products in a symbolic act to help stop the illegal wildlife trade.

China’s crushing of confiscated ivory is hailed by the international community. Witnesses to the ivory destruction included representatives from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, World Customs Organization, the Embassy of the United States in China and international conservation organizations like the International Fund for Animal Welfare (www.ifaw.org).

“I am absolutely delighted that the Chinese government has joined the international campaign to bring the illegal ivory trade to an end. The decision to crush confiscated illegal ivory is a landmark decision, sending a strong message to the rest of the world,” said IFAW CEO Azzedine Downes, who attended the recent destruction of stockpiled ivory by the US government.

“Destroying confiscated ivory prevents it from re-entering the market and further stimulating poaching of elephants.  More importantly, the momentum of ivory destructions from countries along the trade chain -- from elephant poaching countries to ivory demand countries -- clearly tells consumers everywhere that ivory buying is unethical and wrong,” added Downes.

Poaching of elephants to supply the illegal ivory trade has reached epidemic proportions. More than 35,000 elephants may have been killed last year alone across Africa. According to a UN report, when populations of elephants decline by over six percent annually, that population is vulnerable to collapse. In many parts of Africa the killing of elephants for ivory is running at 11 to 12 percent of those populations.

“Reducing ivory consumption is the key to saving wild elephants in Africa,” said Sonja Van Tichelen, IFAW’s EU Regional Director. “China and the US have taken the lead in this recently and we need to see more from the EU and member states. There have been some recent  steps to help the world’s threatened elephants – but so much more needs to be done.”

  • The European Parliament will vote this month on a resolution for an EU wildlife trafficking action plan.
  • France will destroy three tonnes of ivory in February
  • London will play host to delegates from 50 countries affected by the illegal wildlife trade a week later.
  • In December the EU Commission announced €12.3m in support of MIKES - Minimising the Illegal Killing of Elephants and other Endangered Species.

 “The EU is uniquely positioned to deliver the drastic action that is necessary. An Action Plan, similar to existing plans to counter terrorism, drugs and weapons smuggling, will bring the coordination and funds necessary to the table so that a comprehensive effort can be made to save the world’s remaining elephants and rhinos. No individual country, or within the EU Commission, no individual DG, has the resources and experience necessary to tackle this problem,” said Van Tichelen. “An Action Plan would bring together the funds, reach and expertise of the various member states and EU Directorate Generals in a way that can reduce demand in consumer countries such as China and Vietnam, improve Europe’s borders, stop the syndicates smuggling ivory and rhino horn for obscene profits, improve the law and order in developing countries, support range states that are diverting valuable and scarce funds to protect the animals and equip the thousands of rangers that are putting their lives on the line with little or no equipment and training.”

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Sabrina Zhang, IFAW China
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Experts

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Cynthia Moss, IFAW Elephant Expert
IFAW Elephant Expert
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Program Director, Elephants Regional Director, South Africa
Program Director, Elephants, Regional Director, South Africa
Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia