1 Tahrcountry Musings: All ivory market must close down, new study recommends

Friday, August 08, 2014

All ivory market must close down, new study recommends

Legal Ivory Trade in a Corrupt World and its Impact on African Elephant Populations
Article first published online: 7 AUG 2014, Conservation Biology

Elephant poaching is at an all time high in Africa. Against the backdrop of this disturbing trend, the contents of this paper assume great significance.

To save elephants, all ivory markets must close and all ivory stockpiles must be destroyed, according to this paper by Elizabeth Bennet published in Conservation Biology. Illegal hunting of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) for ivory is causing rapid decline in their populations. Since 2007, illegal ivory trade has more than doubled. Bennett says corruption enables the laundering of illegal ivory into legal or potentially legal markets. Poachers and traffickers can rapidly pay their way out of trouble, so the financial incentives to break the law heavily outweigh those of abiding by it. Maintaining reliable permitting systems and leak-proof chains of custody in this context is challenging, and effective management breaks down. Once illegal ivory has entered the legal trade, it is difficult or impossible for enforcement officers to know what is legal and illegal. Bennett signs off saying “If we are to conserve remaining wild populations, 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.”

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