Published 14 June 2007


CITES: 18 year ivory deadlock broken—WWF/TRAFFIC

The Hague, The Netherlands, 14 June 2007—African range states have come together to break an 18 year ivory impasse, a significant move that is applauded by WWF and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network. There had been much division across Africa going into the CITES meeting.

Africa came to a deal over ivory sales, but the key issue of how to tackle the illegal domestic ivory markets remains unresolved © Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon

Zambia and Chad presented a compromise document on behalf of all African elephant range countries detailing an increase in the one-off sale of ivory to include ivory from stockpiles from Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe if registered by January 31, 2007.   

The document also calls for a 9-year official suspension of all ivory trading, after the approved “one- off” sale goes forward.

“This consensus is a milestone in elephant history,” said Dr Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF Global Species Programme. “This is the first time in more than 20 years that opposing factions are now speaking with one voice to move this debate forward. Unfortunately however, time ran out at the Conference to effectively deal with the critical threat to elephants in the wild—poaching and illegal domestic ivory markets.”

Despite the controversy surrounding “one off” ivory sales and ivory trade suspensions, the real and substantive issues, according to TRAFFIC and WWF are illegal domestic ivory markets, both in Africa and Asia. 

The ETIS (Elephant Trade Information System) analysis reveals that key problem countries for illegal ivory are: Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Thailand and China. 

“We are looking for real conservation achievement on the ground. Let countries now take this spirit of goodwill and tackle the ivory that is being haemorrhaged illegally from West and Central Africa,” said Tom Milliken, of TRAFFIC, Director of TRAFFIC South and East Africa.