CITES Decision Boosts Calls to Close Domestic Ivory Markets Worldwide

Today, CITES CoP17 called for countries where there is a legal domestic market for ivory that is contributing to poaching or illegal trade to take all necessary legislative, regulatory and enforcement measures to close their domestic markets for raw and worked ivory as a matter of urgency. It recognizes that narrow exemptions to this closure for some items may be warranted, but that such exemptions should not contribute to poaching or illegal trade.

In response, WWF issued the following statement from Ginette Hemley, head of CITES delegation:

“Countries have said loud and clear that legal markets should no longer provide a cover for the massive illegal trade driving the decline of Africa’s elephants.

“Domestic ivory markets allow organized crime syndicates to launder freshly poached ivory through legal trade, and perpetuates the consumer demand driving the elephant poaching crisis.

“The decision here at CITES gives a huge boost to recent calls to close domestic ivory markets worldwide, as countries from across the world have now given their stamp of approval.

“Notably, China’s support for the decision here at CITES on the need to close domestic markets demonstrates major progress. It has already committed to phasing out its large domestic market and clearly believes others should follow suit. To affirm its leadership on this issue, China must now put in place a firm timeline to close its domestic market as soon as possible. This would send an even more unmistakable signal to the world’s other major markets.

“Thailand, for its part, has taken significant steps to regulate its domestic ivory market. However, the best long-term approach for Thailand and other key ivory consumer countries is to close their markets entirely and focus enforcement efforts on tackling the illegal ivory trade.

“Today’s decision gives countries a clear mandate – shutter domestic ivory markets and fully join the fight to save the world’s elephants.”