France takes an elephantine step!

Segolene Royal—Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development, and Energy— during the meeting on 28th January at the Hotel de Roquelaure.Sometimes, decisions can be taken rapidly, as was the case with Segolene Royal—Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development, and Energy—on Wednesday, January 28th at the Hotel de Roquelaure where she performs her duties with members of her cabinet.

Nearly a year after the destruction of a 3-tonne stockpile of ivory seized by the French authorities, IFAW co-signed with 36 NGOs—including the association responsible for the initiative, Robin des Bois [Robin Hood]—a letter to the Minister on January 20th requesting that the French government take immediate measures to prohibit all sales and exports of raw or bits of ivory.

While France may have been the first European country to destroy its ivory stockpiles in 2014, it also exported a record 3 tonnes of raw ivory that same year. The message of zero tolerance they were trying to send to traffickers and poachers was not clear at all.

A few days later, we received an invitation from the Minister to work on this dossier. The invitation stated:

“I fully share your concern and want to continue our efforts to fight against the illicit trade of this endangered animal and preserve its essential role in our ecosystem. It is our duty and our responsibility to ensure its conservation in the wild.”


By the end of the meeting, we left the Hotel de Roquelaure with a series of concrete measures taken by the Minister:

  1. The immediate suspension of France’s issuance of export certificates for raw ivory.
  2. A call to other member states of the European Union to ban exports of raw ivory as Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and part of the United States already do.
  3. Increased oversight of sales certificates on French soil.
  4. Enhanced cooperation between the Ministry of Ecology and customs and the revival of the inter-ministerial plan of cooperation to improve synergy between services in order to enhance the effectiveness of anti-fraud measures, particularly across borders.
  5. An illicit ivory crush in 2015.
  6. The Biodiversity Act, which will be discussed in a few weeks, will strengthen penalties for trafficking in protected species (elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, tropical timber, etc.).

This is a big step in the right direction to save the world’s last remaining elephants.


Visit our campaign page to learn more about IFAW’s actions to eradicate the trade of endangered species.

Editor's note: this post was translated from the author's original French version.

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
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Faye Cuevas, Esq.
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Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
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