Elephants and illegal ivory trade are making headlines. CI experts respond

© Clive Rogers/Flickr Creative Commons

Above: An elephant in South Africa, pictured above. (© Clive Rogers/Flickr Creative Commons)

New laws on the sale of ivory and the speculation that more countries plan to crack down on the ivory market have made headlines recently.

Here, Conservation International experts react to the latest news.

What does 2018 have in store for nature?

At the close of 2017, China followed through on its landmark commitment to close its domestic ivory market, the world’s largest, said Keith Roberts, executive director for wildlife trafficking at Conservation International. Meanwhile, 18 African nations, organized under the Elephant Protection Initiative — of which CI serves as co-secretariat alongside  Stop Ivory — have agreed to close their domestic ivory markets and place their national stockpiles beyond economic use for at least 10 years.

The progress raises questions: How far is the world from a truly global ban on ivory sales, and will it make a difference in the poaching of elephants in Africa?

Read more here.

Ivory investigator killed in Kenya

Esmond Bradley Martin, 75, former UN special envoy for rhino conservation, was found dead in his home in Nairobi with a stab wound to his neck, Alastair Leithead reported for the BBC.

Martin spent his career photographing and documenting the illegal sales of ivory and rhino horn throughout China and Southeast Asia. His work — much of it undercover — helped to shed light on market demand for illegally traded ivory.

The motive for Martin’s killing is unclear. In any case, his death highlighted concerns faced by those who fight to protect nature.

Read more here.

Hong Kong votes to ban sale of ivory

Hong Kong banned the sale of ivory on Wednesday, the latest blow to an illegal trade that has brought elephants to the brink of extinction.

Lawmakers in Hong Kong voted for a bill that would abolish the ivory trade by 2021, following China’s complete ban on ivory sales that went into effect at the end of last year, The Associated Press reported.

Hong Kong’s ban will be enforced in three stages: an initial ban on trade in hunting trophies and ivory dating from after 1975, followed by a ban on the sale of ivory acquired before 1975, and finally, traders would have to dispose of their stock by 2021. The penalties for violators will be increased to a maximum fine of HK$ 10 million (US$ 1.3 million) and up to 10 years in prison.

Read more here.

Morgan Lynch is a staff writer for Conservation International.

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