Search Results for: ivory

National Geographic: China’s And Hong Kongs Infamous And Shadowy Ivory Trade


OPINION: Hong Kong’s Infamous and Shadowy Ivory Trade

By Alex Hofford

It is a little known fact that the blame for the elephant poaching crisis of the 1980s, which resulted in the global ivory ban of 1989, can be laid squarely at the feet of the Hong Kong ivory traders. And now they’re at it again.

At a time when it has been scientifically proven that Africa lost 100,000 elephants from 2010 through 2012, no one in Hong Kong is questioning why the city’s ivory traders are still clinging onto their old stocks of ivory, which should have been depleted long ago.

It’s a moral outrage that these old men, who have had more than 25 years to clear out their pre-1989 ban ivory stocks, are still holding onto them.

Or are they simply pulling the wool over the eyes of the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) and topping up their existing stocks of pre-1989 convention ivory with illegally smuggled ivory fresh off the boat from Mombasa?

Hong Kong Ivory Seizures on the Increase

The recent spate of ivory seizures intercepted by the Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department with alarming and increasing regularity at Hong Kong’s port and airport would seem to suggest as much.


Confiscated ivory from Ivory Coast in Africa is seen at the Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department Ports and Maritime Command Centre, Kwai Chung, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 03 October 2013. Copyright Alex Hofford.
Confiscated ivory from Ivory Coast in Africa is seen at the Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department Ports and Maritime Command Centre, Kwai Chung, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 03 October 2013. Copyright Alex Hofford.


It’s a mystery to wildlife conservationists and animal welfare advocates in Hong Kong that with such high demand from the surging number of Chinese tourists coming here, many of whom have woefully low awareness of the poaching crisis in Africa, the total amount of “legal” ivory in the hands of the trade has barely moved more than a few kilos in the past three years.

According to Hong Kong government statistics, it was 116.5 tonnes in 2011, 118.7 tonnes in 2012, and 117.1 tonnes in 2013. Why isn’t this stockpile going down?

It’s an open secret that many tourists who come to Hong Kong smuggle ivory products back home. Wildlife crime is still not being taken seriously in this Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.

Fines and penalties for ivory trafficking remain low, as can be seen by the paltry, “slap-on-the-wrist” sentences of six months handed down by a Hong Kong magistrate to 16 Vietnamese ivory traffickers caught red-handed at Hong Kong airport in June.


Click on chart to enlarge it
Click on chart to enlarge it


Let’s be clear: Hong Kong people aren’t buying this stuff. Tourists are indirectly fueling an ivory trade that forms an integral part of the global illegal wildlife trade—the fourth largest type of illegal trafficking after drugs, arms, and human beings.

Hong Kong is not immune from the scourge of Islamic terrorism, and many consumers are unaware that by buying an ivory trinket from a store in Mong Kok, Sheung Wan, or North Point, they could just be financing terrorist militias in Africa like Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, or Lord’s Resistance Army.

The numbers on the WildLifeRisk graph show that Hong Kong ivory traders are topping up their supposed legal stocks with freshly poached ivory from Africa.


A computer monitor belonging to a Hong Kong ivory trader shows ivory tusks being weighed; Hong Kong; China; 21 October 2013. Copyright Alex Hofford.
A computer monitor belonging to a Hong Kong ivory trader shows ivory tusks being weighed; Hong Kong; China; 21 October 2013. Copyright Alex Hofford.


An unnamed ivory trader is seen in a warehouse in Hong Kong on 21 October 2013. Copyright Alex Hofford.
An unnamed ivory trader is seen in a warehouse in Hong Kong on 21 October 2013. Copyright Alex Hofford.

We at Hong Kong for Elephants doubt that Hong Kong’s AFCD is carrying out much more than very cursory inspections of the keeping premises of the ivory stock held by the 447 anonymous holders of ivory possession licenses. Does AFCD go deeper than merely checking whether or not those licenses are up-to-date? We doubt it.

Hong Kong Should Step Up

The unfolding crisis affecting Africa’s iconic megafauna is a cause for concern for all, and Hong Kong does have a role to play as a responsible global player.

Unfortunately, these days it is not only the sharks that we need to look out for. We also need each and everyone to stop buying ivory. The Hong Kong government could do so much more to raise awareness about this urgent issue. They could do a lot worse than start by legislating an ivory trade ban to save the magnificent African elephant before it’s too late.

Alex Hofford is founder of Hong Kong for Elephants and a wildlife campaigner for WildAid. @alexhofford


A photo made available 19 June 2013 shows a rhinoceros figurine made out of ivory at a store selling ivory products in Kowloon, Hong Kong, China, 19 June 2013. Dr Poole, who is based in Kenya, is China to meet with zoo directors, government officials and animal welfare groups to discuss the ivory issue. More than 7 per cent of the world's elephants were killed for their tusks in 2012, which is the highest recorded amount, according to the researcher. 40 per cent of ivory poached in Africa is bound for China, which sis still the biggest market for elephant tusks. Poole is urging the governments of Beijing and Hong Kong to ban the trade. Copyright Alex Hofford.
A photo made available 19 June 2013 shows a rhinoceros figurine made out of ivory at a store selling ivory products in Kowloon, Hong Kong, China, 19 June 2013. Copyright Alex Hofford.

EIA New Report: Shocking 100 000 Elephants Were Killed In Africa Between 2010 And 2012, Most Ivory Going To China

Dra i hörnen på rutan ovan för att beskära ditt nya profilfoto.
Sparar din nya profilbild

Banning ivory: The why and the howA shocking new peer-reviewed study documented that 100,000 elephants were killed in Africa for their ivory from 2010 to 2012, and that a burgeoning illegal ivory market has continued to feed high, unsustainable rates of killing into 2013 and 2014. Africa’s forest elephants are being wiped out, and the continued viability of the continent-wide population is now in doubt.The potential extinction risk of one of the world’s most iconic species demands our attention, regardless of its context. But there is more. As the presidents of Tanzania, Gabon, Namibia and Togo candidly confirmed at the recent U.S.-Africa Summit, the international criminal networks that are orchestrating the killing, gathering, transporting and selling of ivory other wildlife parts are corrupting officials in their governments and funding terrorist organizations. National security also is at stake.What can be done to stop the killings? Clearly, as the administration has recognized, a comprehensive strategy that addresses the entire supply chain is needed. It must begin in Africa by stemming the killings and working with local communities to protect their wildlife. But so long as there is a strong market pull for illegal ivory in Asia, Europe and the U.S., criminal syndicates will find a way for the killings to continue.

Addressing the demand side of the elephant crisis means stigmatizing new demand for ivory and enforcing the international ban on ivory trading. Only a ban on commercial trade in ivory can protect elephants when they are on the razor’s edge. This is why the U.S. Congress responded to a previous spike of elephant killings in the 1980s by slapping an indefinite moratorium − effectively, a ban − on the import of ivory under African Elephant Conservation Act of 1989. The international community followed suit in 1990, enacting a ban on the commercial import and export of ivory and ivory products under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). These actions cooled off the ivory market and enabled elephant populations to rebound.

Tragically, however, enforcement attention on the ivory ban has faded over time …

Full story at

#elephants #ivory #Africa #China

Image: Elephant matriarch Hope, poached for her ivory in Kenya, 2011 (c) EIA

States are eyeing stiffer ivory laws amid a surge in elephant poaching

Originally posted on SAVES Club:

In an effort to stop a recent surge in elephant poaching, states are moving to impose stricter bans on the sale of ivory, building on federal administrative actions taken this year.

California is the second-largest market for ivory in the U.S., after New York. Above, Thai officials display confiscated smuggled African elephant tusks during a news conference in Bangkok in July. (Rungroj Yongrit, European Pressphoto Agency)

New York and New Jersey have already taken steps recently to tighten restrictions on the sale of ivory, and environmental groups say their next target is California.

“We believe that California law needs to be fixed,” said Elly Pepper, a policy advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York environmental advocacy group.

I was in San Francisco walking down the streets and there’s a shocking amount of ivory in that city, and the same is true for L.A.
– Elly Pepper, a…

View original 784 more words

Kenyan Officer Caught With Billion Dollars Of Worth Of Ivory


Dra i hörnen på rutan ovan för att beskära ditt nya profilfoto.
Sparar din nya profilbild

Kenya: Police officer among two arrested with Sh6.2 million elephant tusks in Narok

Kenya Wildlife Service officials in Narok County nabbed two suspects among them an administration police officer with two elephant tusks worth Sh6.2million in Ilkerin Loita area on the outskirt of world-famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Narok County on Sunday evening.

The officer is in charge of Loita Administration Police in Narok South Sub County.

Narok North Deputy OCPD Paul Cheruiyot said the two were arrested following a tip-off from members of the public who alerted the KWS officers.

Cheruiyot said the KWS officers posed as potential customers before ambushing and arrested the suspects with the 62 Kgs of ivory.


#Kenya #Africa #ivory #elephants

Image: Tusks recovered from the two suspects, via Visa mer


Peer-reviewed Paper Says All Ivory Market Must Close


Dra i hörnen på rutan ovan för att beskära ditt nya profilfoto.
Sparar din nya profilbild

Peer-reviewed paper says all ivory markets must close

The message is simple: to save elephants, all ivory markets must close and all ivory stockpiles must be destroyed, according to a new peer-reviewed paper by the Wildlife Conservation Society. The paper says that corruption, organized crime, and a lack of enforcement make any legal trade of ivory a major factor contributing to the demise of Africa’s elephants.

* EIA has long pressed for a complete ban on all ivory sales and markets – learn more at

Appearing in the August 7th online edition of the journal Conservation Biology, the paper says that if we are to conserve significant wild populations of elephants across all regions of Africa, all domestic and international ivory markets need to be closed. In addition, government stockpiles of ivory, currently scattered around the world, need to be destroyed since they are known to be significant sources of ivory leaking into the illegal trade. According to the paper’s author, corruption undermines all aspects of controls as long as a legal market remains.

“If we are to conserve remaining wild populations of elephants, we must close all markets because, under current levels of corruption, they cannot be controlled in a way that does not provide opportunities for illegal ivory being laundered into legal markets,” said the paper’s author, Elizabeth Bennett, WCS Vice President for Species Conservation.

Full story at

#ivory #China #Japan #elephants

Hallmark is selling ivory….as a perfect 14th anniversary present

Originally posted on GarryRogers Nature Conservation:

Source:  Condofire

12f15b97-b2ad-44f9-a2c8-a6fb2d40dba6“Hallmark is promoting IVORY as a 14th wedding anniversary gift on their website and posting this blatant falsehood: “Many pieces of beautiful jewelry showcase ivory shed naturally from animals. Look online for options.” at this link:“ACTION: Please EMAIL or CALL Hallmark to educate them that ALL ivory products come from slaughtered elephants and much ivory for sale is ILLEGAL ivory!
Email Hallmark at this link:
Phone Hallmark at this TOLL-FREE number: 1-800-HALLMARK (1-800-425-5627)
Post on Hallmark‘s FB page at this link: or Email these three paragraphs:

“Your website has ivory listed as the 14th wedding anniversary gift, an outdated and today often ILLEGAL item. Furthermore, Hallmark is spreading the blatant falsehood that ivory jewelry comes from ivory that is “shed naturally from animals”. No, Hallmark, elephants’ tusks do not fall out naturally! Elephants are brutally poached for their tusks with poisoned…

View original 170 more words

EIA :Working To End New Zealand’s Bloody Ivory Trafficking

Working to end New Zealand’s role in the blood ivory trade

July 14, 2014

Far away from Africa where an elephant is killed every 15 minutes, New Zealand’s legal domestic ivory trade is booming and authorities have confiscated more than 700 pieces of illegal ivory since the 1989 global ivory trade ban. Will the New Zealand Government commit to an ivory crush event, a public awareness campaign and a ban on the ivory trade altogether? In today’s guest blog for EIA, Environmental Policy Analyst Fiona Gordon talks about her inspiration to endeavour make this happen.


New Zealand children present a banner with children’s drawings of elephants to Minister of Conservation, the Hon Dr Nick Smith, at the International March for Elephants, Wellington, New Zealand, October 4, 2013  (c) Shane Bayley


My dad always read his monthly National Geographic from cover to cover. I couldn’t quite fathom his diligence when I was a teenager but I have definitely inherited his curiosity and passion for learning, his need to be informed of things happening far beyond my doorstep.

When I first read about the orphaned elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, I was shocked to learn that people were still killing elephants for their tusks. I’d thought the ivory trade was a thing of the past. At the same time, I was comforted by the wonderful work of Dame Daphne Sheldrick and her dedicated team.

That comfort was fleeting, disappearing with the publication of Bryan Christy’s Ivory Worship. Along with the raw images by photographer Brent Stirton, this article exposed the illegal ivory trade in a way I’d never seen before. The extent of the trade, the consumer greed, the impact on elephants – it was so disheartening.

Orphan elephant Lemoyian (c) David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

My children and I adopted little orphan Lemoyian at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) and felt in some small way we were doing our bit to help save the elephants.

The brutal killing of Qumquat and her family in 2012 was a turning point for me. This famous matriarch was born in l968 and had been studied for years by the Amboseli Trust for Elephants. She and her family were photographed, calm and trusting of their human admirers, by Nick Brandt of the Big Life Foundation just 24 hours before they were slaughtered. Fortunately, Quanza, Qumquat’s latest calf, was spared and is now in the care of the DSWT.

I wondered what New Zealand was actively doing to ensure our children will grow up in a world with elephants – not in zoos or safari parks, but in the wild. To be blunt, it appears that saving Africa’s elephants is not high on New Zealand’s Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) priority list in terms of resources.

We have an excellent international reputation for border control and enforcement, and for legislation dealing with illegal wildlife trade. But, like any other country, New Zealand appears focused on issues that could directly affect its own native species. It seems there is also a reluctance to involve ourselves in ‘other people’s business’. While such an approach may be understandable, is it acceptable when the elephant is clearly a globally iconic species?

Elephants are everywhere in New Zealand – in bookshops, toy shops, baby clothing and linen shops, on nappies, tissue boxes, plasterboard brands and even a winery … the list goes on. Clearly, New Zealanders place value in Africa’s elephants, so perhaps we should make it our business to do our bit to help elephants survive.

Drawing of elephants by New Zealand under-fives

New Zealand children under five happily draw elephants without assistance – on a visit, they proudly showed off their drawings, telling me all about the “four big stompy feet”, a “long trunk for squirting water” and “big flappy ears” – testament to the elephant’s global iconic status.

Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, and Auckland joined more than 35 cities across the globe on October 4, 2013, taking the International March for Elephants straight to Parliament. The call to ban the ivory trade, crush the confiscated ivory stockpile and take other actions was received positively by Minister of Conservation Dr Nick Smith, but no doubt it would need to be backed by ‘hard data’ on the local ivory trade too.

Several official information requests later and I received more than 24 years worth of trade data to look at. A Report on the New Zealand Trade in Ivory 1980 – 2012 (April 2014), which I authored, found some interesting facts:
New Zealand ivory trade report cover• Over 24 years, more than 700 pieces of ivory have been confiscated by our authorities, including 80 tusks, 564 carvings and numerous ivory pieces and teeth. Forty-nine items were confiscated in 2012 alone;
• The first conviction for illegal ivory trading in New Zealand occurred in 2013 and included an element of gain and investment;
• New Zealand’s re-exports of ivory have increased and our imports for trade have increased recently too. On a per capita basis, data indicates that New Zealand exceeds the USA as an ivory carving importer between 2009-12;
• The domestic ivory market reportedly continued to ‘boom’ in 2012, with competition continuing to drive prices well above estimated values.

Just a few months ago, fresh charges were laid against a 61-year-old man for illegally importing 31 pieces of elephant ivory and a recent IFAW report on NZ on-line trading, Click to Delete, noted few ivory items included evidence of age or source.

New Zealand is a small nation of only 4.5 million people in the South Pacific, about as far away from Africa’s elephants as you can get. We may play a small part in the demise of the elephant, but the hard data shows that we play one nevertheless.

New Zealand can choose to destroy its confiscated ivory stockpile, implement demand-reduction campaigns and ban the ivory trade entirely.

The Government’s Select Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade are currently considering a petition from Auckland teacher Virginia Woolf, asking that the New Zealand ivory trade be completely banned. My report on the issue provides supporting documentation for that petition and also recommends stockpile destruction. Our hope is that the petition and the report combined will have provided enough evidence for these proactive steps to be taken by New Zealand.

Every piece of ivory – large or small – counts towards the demise of the elephant. Every effort to reduce demand in every nation – large or small – counts towards saving it.

Awareness is vital, as is providing people with the opportunity to act.

You can:
• Join the NZ Campaign Say No To ALL Ivory Trade NOW
• Send an automated letter directly to the New Zealand Government
• Watch and share the infographic When the buying stops the killing can too
• Sign the 96 Elephants pledge



A Critical Petition to Sanction Thailand for Ivory Trafficking

Originally posted on GarryRogers Nature Conservation:

elephant poaching in KenyaPlease click and sign the petition now.

“Poachers just shot one of the world’s largest elephants, Satao, then hacked his 100 pound tusks out of his face with a machete. At the current rate of killing, elephants may be extinct in 15 years, but this week if we act now we have an amazing chance to crack down on the illegal trade that fuels the slaughter.

“Each day, 50 regal elephants are butchered just to make dinky ivory trinkets! The main culprit for this carnage is Thailand — the fastest growing market for unregulated ivory. And tomorrow the international body created to protect endangered species has a chance to sanction Thailand until it cracks down on the elephant killers. Experts fear Thai leaders are mounting a propaganda campaign to dodge penalties, but it just takes Europe and the US to ignore their noise and spearhead action to end…

View original 60 more words

China’s Insatiable Demand For Ivory Fuels Terrorism In Africa And The Middle East


The insatiable Chinese demand for ivory is fuelling violence and bloodshed across Africa and the Middle East, with militant groups such as al-Shabab and the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army using the “white gold” as a key source of funding.

The involvement of such groups in the illegal ivory trade has politicians and activists increasingly viewing the issue as a threat to national security, not just animal preservation.

A report published by the United Nations Environment Programme last week found the Lord’s Resistance Army made between US$4 million and US$12 million every year from trafficking ivory.

Joseph Kony, the group’s warlord leader, has been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court and is being hunted in Uganda.

The report follows a speech by former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton last year in which she highlighted how militant groups including al-Shabab “fund their terrorist activities to a great extent from ivory trafficking”.

Ivory, most of which ends up on the market in Hong Kong and the mainland, provides these terrorist groups with hundreds of thousands of dollars that are used to finance militant activities, said Andrea Crosta, executive director of the Elephant Action League and a former security and intelligence consultant.

“People must realise that behind a simple ivory trinket lies a long chain of blood and criminality,” said Crosta, who participated in an 18-month undercover investigation into the syndicates behind the illegal trade.

“I was offered ivory, weapons and even uranium. Ivory buyers need to understand the kind of people who engage in the trade,” said the Italian conservationist.

China is the world’s largest consumer market for ivory and many of the shipments transit in Hong Kong before being moved to the mainland. Estimates of the amount of illegal ivory destined for the Chinese market range from 60 to 90 per cent of the total supply leaving Africa.

Based on seizures, Crosta believes the actual figure is close to 80 per cent. Earlier this year Operation Cobra II, an Interpol-led international crackdown on wildlife crime, found that 200 out of the 350 cases investigated involved China.

The price of ivory in China has tripled to US$2,100 per kilogram over the past four years, making the increasingly scarce tusks a lucrative source of revenue for terrorist and militant groups.

One of the most organised of these groups is al-Shabab, a Somalia-based cell of al-Qaeda.

With an estimated strength of between 4,000 and 6,000 militants, the group is responsible for a host of killings, including the assassination of a Somali lawmaker on Thursday and the deaths of 67 people in an attack on a Nairobi shopping mall in September.

Unlike the Lord’s Resistance Army and the janjaweed militia in Sudan – both of which actively hunt and kill elephants for their tusks – al-Shabab positions itself as a middleman and a buyer.

After receiving an order, al-Shabab will trigger its network of contacts in Kenya and Somalia to obtain a consignment, then use its smuggling expertise to move the ivory onto ships in Mombasa or Dar-es-Salaam, Crosta said.

“In Africa, al-Shabab is considered a good buyer – it pays well, pays on time and there are no jokes. Usually they arrange pick-ups in the middle of nowhere and move the ivory quickly offshore in skiffs, like with drugs,” Crosta said.

They have the capacity to buy between one and three tonnes of ivory every month and make huge profits that they then use to buy weapons, he added.

The issue will likely feature on the agenda when nations meet this week at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Geneva.

Also up for discussion is the possibility of implementing a decision-making mechanism (DMM) that would provide pro-trade countries such as China and a number of African countries an avenue to legally buy and sell ivory.

“The DMM is a disaster waiting to happen to the last remaining African elephant populations,” said WildAid campaigner Alex Hofford. “It has been proven, time and again, that the legal ivory trade provides a cover for the illegal ivory trade.”

In 1999 and 2008, China was granted one-time legal purchases of ivory consignments overseen by an official state body. However, campaigners say ivory dealers are laundering illegal smuggled ivory into the much smaller legal market.

“The fundamental issue is that the abuse of the legal market is key,” said Environmental Investigation Agency executive director Mary Rice, who will be at this week’s meetings in Geneva.

“China’s position has been very strong in reducing demand for illegal ivory, but it still encourages legal ivory,” said Rice.

An official on the Chinese delegation to CITES did not respond to inquiries.

The discussion has never been more critical, with African elephants facing extinction within a decade.

“The illegal wildlife trade is a serious criminal industry worth more than £6 billion (HK$80 billion) each year. While threatening the future existence of a whole species, it devastates already vulnerable communities, drives corruption and undermines efforts to cut poverty,” said Martin Walley, International Wildlife Trade Campaign coordinator at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Ivory seizures in Hong Kong reached an all-time high of 8,041kg last year, up 43 per cent from 2012 and 300 per cent from 2003, according to figures from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

A spokesman for the customs department said it would maintain close contact with overseas and mainland enforcement agencies to prevent smuggling, but said there was “no evidence” Hong Kong had become a transit point for the ivory trade.

Follow Bryan on Twitter @bryanhimself

The Guardian: The Price Of Ivory Triples In China

A Hong Kong Customs officer displays seized ivory at the Hong Kong international airport, China, on 10 June 2014.A Hong Kong Customs officer displays seized ivory at the Hong Kong international airport, China, on 10 June 2014. Photograph: ALEX HOFFORD/EPA

The price of ivory taken from African elephants slaughtered for their tusks has tripled in the past four years in China, the world’s biggest market, conservationists said on Thursday.

“The surge in the price of ivory is driving a wave of killing of elephants across Africa that shows little sign of abating,” campaign group Save the Elephants said.

“With the ivory price in Africa a tenth of that reached in China, substantial profits are being generated for organised crime that fuels insecurity, corruption, and deprives local communities of valuable income.”

Researchers from the Kenyan-based group studying ivory sales in China said prices had risen for a kilogram of raw ivory from $750 (£437) in 2010 to $2,100 (£1225) in 2014.

This week wildlife group TRAFFIC warned that Thailand’s ivory market was “out of control” and that the number of ivory products on sale in Bangkok had nearly trebled in the past year.

Save the Elephants estimates an average of 33,000 elephants were lost to poachers every year between 2010 and 2012.

“Without concerted international action to reduce the demand for ivory, measures to reduce the killing of elephants for ivory will fail,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants.

“Although half a world away, China holds the key to the future of the African elephant.”

The group has also tracked ivory sales within Africa, discovering that Lagos in Nigeria, followed by Luanda in Angola, has the largest numbers of ivory trinkets on open sale.

Organised crime syndicates and rebel militia increasingly use poaching to fund insurgencies, reaping the benefits of multi-billion-dollar demand for ivory in China.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 771 other followers