IFAW and the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB) organised a large-scale ivory destruction operation on 28 November. The event aimed to stem the trade and raise awareness of the trafficking responsible for the deaths of thousands of elephants every year.
In 2015, IFAW launched the 'I'm surrendering my ivory' campaign to encourage people to hand in ivory items such as tusks, trinkets or jewellery for destruction. The campaign was a great success, and many people are still looking for places to dispose of their unwanted ivory.
Through this collaboration, law enforcement recognises the importance of responding to private individuals wanting the option of disposing of their ivory objects.
Since 2015, hundreds of pieces of ivory have been received by IFAW, OFB and French customs mainly via surrenders from individuals, but also through seizures. The decision was made to destroy this stock to ensure that these items could never be reintroduced into the commercial circuit. These 1,800 kilos represent around 180 elephants, whose tusks were coveted for making decorative items. Above all, the quantity of items collected shows the importance of maintaining a secure system for collecting and destroying ivory in the future, under the responsibility of the State.
The major destruction operation happened in Reims on 28 November under the high patronage of Sarah El Haïry, Secretary of State for Biodiversity. The ivory was crushed and then destroyed by combustion.
Sarah EL HAÏRY, Secretary of State for Biodiversity, said: "Estimated to be worth over 20 billion dollars worldwide, the illegal trade in protected species of wild fauna and flora is one of the most lucrative forms of trafficking. It is frequently the work of structured criminal organisations with a real strategy. The challenge of disrupting and dismantling these organised crime networks can only be met by coordinating all the state forces involved in protecting protected wild species. These collective operations are intended to bring to justice eco-criminals who commit wildlife offences and to seize tonnes of illegal products. My guideline is clear: zero tolerance! " She added: "The ecological planning implemented by the Government – of which the National Biodiversity Strategy that I will shortly be presenting is one of the deliverables - will inform the actions of all the sworn agents, military personnel, environmental inspectors and magistrates who are fighting against this degradation of global biodiversity. "
"The exponential demand for collecting these objects since the first collection in 2015 demonstrates the real need to offer private individuals a solution to divest themselves of their ivory. Whether out of ethical conviction or because they are unable to sell it legally following the latest changes in regulations," said Mia Crnojevic-Cherrier, Campaigns Officer at IFAW. "The ivory trade remains a major threat to elephant populations. Thousands of elephants are poached every year in response" added Mia Crnojevic-Cherrier.
"By destroying this ivory, we can take as much of it as possible out of the circuit to prevent any future sales, which would be illegal. As a player in implementing CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the French Biodiversity Office is working hard every day in the fight against species trafficking. I am therefore delighted that we are contributing to this action, to the fight against the illegal ivory trade and its knock-on effects on elephant poaching. " explained Olivier Thibault, Director General of the OFB.
IFAW France is also committed to planting one tree in Zimbabwe for every kilo of ivory received to help restore the habitat of elephants, the destruction of which is one of the leading causes of the ongoing erosion of biodiversity.
The destruction operation is being carried out with the support of the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion, the Command for the Environment and Health (CESAN), the Ministry of Justice and IUCN France. French Customs is also involving its stock of ivory in this operation.
Notes to editors:
- The last destruction operation in 2018 destroyed one tonne of ivory, drying up the market and sending a strong message to traffickers.
- Today, there are 400,000 elephants left in Africa – a decline of 70% compared to the 1970s (1.3 million individuals), mainly due to poaching. Within a century, elephant populations have fallen by more than 90%.
- Historically, the European Union (EU) has been one of the world’s largest exporters of legal ivory.
- The persistence of legal domestic markets for ivory in the EU and elsewhere has enabled criminals to launder illegal ivory from poaching. It places the burden of proof of this illegality on the police and has created confusion among consumers as to whether the available ivory is of legal or illegal origin.
- In May 2018, over 90 Members of the European Parliament called for a total ban on the import and trade of ivory in the EU, and an initial public consultation launched by the European Commission showed that over 90% of the 90,000 people surveyed were in favour of a ban on the trade in ivory in the EU.
- The UK banned ivory trade in December 2018, effective from June 2022.
- On 16 December 2021, the European Commission revised its regulation, adopting new guidelines, severely restricting the ivory trade. The new measures are the strongest ever taken by the European Union (EU), one of the world's largest exporters of legal ivory. The new EU guidelines significantly restrict domestic trade in ivory and imports and re-exports of raw and worked ivory. There are only a few exceptions for antiques and specific musical instruments.
- In November 2022, the European Commission published a new action plan against wildlife trafficking containing ambitious measures for the next four years. This new Action Plan for 2022-2027 sets out four priorities: prevention, enforcement, strengthening global partnerships and strengthening the EU's legal framework. It also includes (a) implementing targeted demand reduction actions, focusing on changing consumer behaviour, (b) monitoring the implementation and effectiveness of the new EU ivory trade rules, and (c) strengthening measures to combat wildlife crime.
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
IFAW is a global non-profit helping animals and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working across seas, oceans and in more than 40 countries around the world. We rescue, rehabilitate and release animals, and we restore and protect their natural habitats. The problems we’re up against are urgent and complicated. To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action. We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organisations and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish. See how at ifaw.org
About the OFB (French Office for Biodiversity)
The French Office for Biodiversity is a public institution created on 1st January 2020. It is dedicated to protecting and restoring biodiversity in Metropolitan France and its Overseas Territories under the supervision of the ministries responsible for Ecology and Agriculture & Food. Its remit is to monitor, preserve, manage and restore terrestrial, aquatic and marine biodiversity, as well as the balanced and sustainable management of water resources in France and its Overseas Territories. It is responsible for developing scientific and technical knowledge of species, environments and their uses, monitoring and controlling environmental damage, managing protected areas, supporting the implementation of public policies and mobilising society as a whole, including socio-economic players and citizens.
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