NGO Intelligence Led to Ivory Bust in China

Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Yarmouth Port, MA

Based on information provided by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org), China’s Forestry Police conducted a surprise inspection earlier this week at Chengtian Antique Mall  where they confiscated 107 pieces of illegal ivory and other wildlife products. Three suspects were detained in connection with the August 6th seizure.

Located near Beijing, the wholesale mall is highlighted in the recent IFAW report, “Making a Killing—A 2011 Survey of Ivory Markets in China,” as one of the worst locations for illegal ivory trade.  Out of 22 shops that are involved in ivory trade, only one has the necessary license.

“It is very gratifying to see that the intelligence provided by IFAW resulted in the confiscation of ivory and the arrest of criminal suspects,” said Grace Gabriel, IFAW’s Asia Regional Director.  “Successful law enforcement operations like this serve as reminders to wildlife traffickers and traders that their crimes against nature will not be tolerated.”

Under China’s regulatory system that was introduced in 2004, only government-approved ivory processing and retail outlets are allowed to trade in elephant ivory. 
Of the 158 retail shops and carving factories investigated by IFAW in 2011, 101 of them did not have ivory trade licenses and were operating illegally.

The IFAW report charts how the 2008 Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) sanctioned sale of stockpiled ivory has fueled the market demand for ivory, and how the legal ivory market in China has provided cover for illegal trade of ivory from poached elephants. 

Prior to publicly releasing the report, IFAW sent details of the investigation to China’s wildlife enforcement authorities, including intelligence on the location of the illegal ivory operations and contact details for illegal traders.

“Intelligence-led enforcement, combined with severe penalties, is absolutely necessary to deter illegal ivory trade,” added Gabriel.  “This sinful trade is at the core of the elephant poaching crisis in Africa right now. Poachers gun down entire families of elephants just for their ivory tusks to supply the cruel and illegal market.”

Just a week ago, more than 40 elephants were slaughtered in Chad.  The poachers responsible were local Chadians, but Chinese nationals working in Chad were implicated in the smuggling of the ivory.

Worldwide seizures of elephant ivory amounted to 23 tons in 2011, representing the lives of thousands of elephants. 

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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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