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Recent advances in combating illegal ivory trade in China

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 December 2015

Zhigang Jiang*
Affiliation:
Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Endangered Species, Scientific Commission of the People's Republic of China, Beijing, China.
Zhibin Meng
Affiliation:
Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Endangered Species, Scientific Commission of the People's Republic of China, Beijing, China.
Yan Zeng
Affiliation:
Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Endangered Species, Scientific Commission of the People's Republic of China, Beijing, China.
Xiaoge Ping
Affiliation:
Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Endangered Species, Scientific Commission of the People's Republic of China, Beijing, China.
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Abstract

Type
Conservation news
Copyright
Copyright © Fauna & Flora International 2015 

Illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products, in particular ivory trafficking, continues to pose a threat to the survival of wild species. As a result of national and international efforts, however, cases of illegal ivory trafficking in China decreased by about one-third during 2014. On 25 February 2015 the State Forestry Administration announced a ban on importation of ivory carvings for a period of 1 year. In addition, following the destruction of 6.1 t of illegal ivory and ivory products by the State Forestry Administration and the General Administration of Customs in Dongguan, Guangdong, in January 2014, the same bodies destroyed a further 662 kg of ivory products, confiscated during 2014, in Beijing on 29 May 2015.

To help combat the illegal trade in ivory trafficking, a Workshop on Demand-side Strategies for Curbing Illegal Ivory Trade, jointly sponsored by the EU and the China CITES Management Authority, was held in Hangzhou, China on 28–29 January 2015. The State Forestry Administration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture, and General Administration of Customs, as well as representatives from the UK, USA and the European Commission, and representatives of the UN Development and Environment Programmes, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the World Bank, the private sector, NGOs, experts and specialists from many disciplines, including from the ivory carving, collection and art investment circles, joined the meeting. Delegates sought to understand better the markets, motivations and economics of the demand for illegal ivory, identifying key stakeholders and investors. The delegates also discussed what has been done, what should be done, and what will be done to curb the illegal ivory trade, and agreed that a better understanding of the black market drivers of the illegal trade is required.

In May 2015 customs officers and wildlife law enforcement staff took part in Operation Cobra III, an international law enforcement operation to combat wildlife crime. The operation resulted in 139 arrests and many seizures, including elephant ivory and rhinoceros horns. Arrests included a Chinese national believed to have been coordinating rhinoceros horn smuggling from Namibia, an elephant poacher in India, and the seizure of 340 elephant tusks and 65 rhinoceros horns in Mozambique. In total, 37 countries reported seizures and/or arrests during the operation.