“The consumer markets, like China and Thailand, have more disposable income and more wealth than they did back in the 1980s, and higher prices are now being sought for ivory products,” says Leigh Henry, senior policy advisor of wildlife conservation and advocacy for the World Wildlife Fund in Washington. “So now we’re seeing international criminal gangs coming in and poaching.”
The new report from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) says elephant poaching has been on the rise since the mid-2000s. Elephants are now in danger of losing more of their numbers than can be repopulated.
To combat these losses, CITES requested the creation and implementation of National Ivory Action Plans for the top eight countries with the worst poaching records. The countries’ initiatives are now being put into action via strengthened legislation, public awareness campaigns and the destruction of confiscated ivory. In 2013 this led to large seizures of ivory (shipments of over 500 kg) in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. It was the first year that African large seizures outdistanced Asian seizures.
“We are seeing better law enforcement and demand-reduction efforts across multiple countries, as well as greater political and public attention to this unfolding crisis and CITES decisions and compliance processes underpin the global effort,” said John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES. “The momentum generated over the past three years must now translate into deeper and stronger efforts to fight these crimes on the front line, where it is needed most – from the field, to Customs, to illicit markets, and only then can we hope to reverse the devastating poaching trends of the past decade.”
To read the full CITES report, click here.