African Nations Call On the World to Help Them Save African Elephants

Montreux, 29 June 2016: The African Elephant Coalition (AEC), comprising 29 African countries, are calling on the world to join them in saving elephants. The Montreux Manifesto, agreed at a meeting of the Coalition in Montreux, Switzerland from 24 to 26 June, launches a social media campaign – #WorthMoreAlive, #EndIvoryTrade, #Vote4Elephants” – to gain support for their five-part package to put an end to the ivory trade and afford elephants the highest protection under international law.

The AEC’s package, consisting of five proposals to the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in September-October in Johannesburg, South Africa, is designed to reverse the poaching crisis facing elephants. Taken together, the proposals would ban the international trade in ivory by listing all elephants in CITES Appendix I, close domestic ivory markets around the world, encourage better management of ivory stockpiles and where possible their destruction, end further debate in CITES on a mechanism to legalize ivory trade, and limit exports of live African elephants to conservation projects in their natural habitat.

“The Montreux Manifesto shows that our message is clear.”, says Bourama Niagaté from Mali, a member of the Council of the Elders for the Coalition, “we need to all pull together for the sake of Africa’s elephants.”

The Coalition expressed its deep concern about the crisis facing elephants and its conviction that a ban on international and domestic trade in ivory is the best way to protect elephants.

“CITES saved African elephants from certain extinction 27 years ago by listing them on Appendix I,” says Vera Weber, president of the Swiss-based Fondation Franz Weber, a partner organization of the AEC, which facilitated the meeting. “Since then the protection of elephants has been weakened, and poaching has escalated. The AEC has charted a path to relist elephants on Appendix I and ban the ivory trade once and for all.”

The Manifesto appeals to governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations for their support, and calls on citizens around the world to ask their respective governments and CITES representatives to support the five proposals and to help the Coalition in its mission to list all elephants in Appendix I.

NOTES

The five proposals submitted by the AEC to CITES are:

1. Listing all elephants in CITES Appendix I
The proposal seeks to unify all African elephant populations and their range States in one Appendix I listing, ending split-listing through the transfer from Appendix II of the populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The African elephant as a species is not constrained within State borders, nor indeed are national populations. Many are shared with more than one country, arguing for a unified approach to their regulation under CITES. This action seeks to gain the maximum protection for elephants by simplifying and improving enforcement and sending a clear message to the world that ivory cannot be legally traded under international law.

2. Closure of domestic ivory markets
This proposal calls for closure of all domestic markets for commercial trade in raw and worked ivory. Closing all internal markets in range, transit and end-user consumer States would drastically reduce opportunities for the laundering of poached ivory, under the guise that it is antique, “pre-Convention” or otherwise legally acquired. It would also reinforce the message that all ivory sales should be stopped, as they are dangerous for elephants.

3. Ivory stockpile destruction and management
This proposal builds on two earlier papers submitted to the CITES Standing Committee in 2014 and 2016, which led to recognition by the Committee of the destructions of ivory stockpiles by governments since 2011, and a recommendation to develop guidance on stockpile management. It endorses ivory destruction, encourages the highest possible standards of stockpile management, and requests the CITES Secretariat to provide the best available technical guidance on stockpile inventories, audit, management and disposal, including DNA sampling to determine the origin of items in the stockpile.

4. The Decision-Making Mechanism for a process of trade in ivory (DMM)
The proposal recommends that the CoP should end negotiations on the DMM. In view of the concerted global efforts to reduce demand for ivory, the existence of negotiations on a DMM process to legalize trade sends precisely the wrong message – that a legal and sustainable ivory trade is possible, and could reopen in the not-too-distant future. The DMM not only poses unacceptable risks for elephants, but has also generated valid objections among Parties, as shown by the fact that CITES has been unable to make any progress in negotiations after 9 years.

5. Restricting trade in live elephants
The proposal aims to end the export of African elephants outside their natural range, including export to zoos and other captive facilities overseas. Such exports provide no direct benefit to conservation of elephants in their range States (as noted by the IUCN-SSC African Elephant Specialist Group), and there are considerable objections within Africa on ethical and cultural grounds. African elephants, along with their ivory, should remain in Africa.

· The African Elephant Coalition was established in 2008 in Bamako, Mali. It comprises 29 member countries from Africa united by a common goal: “a viable and healthy elephant population free of threats from international ivory trade.” The meeting in Montreux from 24-26 June will be the seventh meeting of the Coalition since it was founded.

· The 29 member countries of the African Elephant Coalition include: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Togo and Uganda. Of the 29 countries represented in the Coalition, 25 of them are African elephant range States, comprising the majority (68%) of the 37 countries in which African elephants occur in the wild.

· Fondation Franz Weber (FFW), based in Switzerland, actively fights to preserve wildlife and nature in Africa and works worldwide to protect animals as individuals through the recognition of their rights and the abolition of inhumane practices.

· The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was established in 1973, entered into force in 1975, and accords varying degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants. Currently 182 countries are Parties to the Convention. The 17th Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP17) will be held in Johannesburg from 24 September to 5 October 2016. The Conference meets every three years.

CONTACTS

· Vera Weber, Fondation Franz Weber: +41 (0)79 210 54 04 / [email protected]
· Don Lehr, Media Relations Consultant: +1 917 304 4058 / [email protected]
· Patricia Awori, AEC Secretariat : +254 722 510 848 / [email protected]

http://www.africanelephantcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Manifesto.pdf

PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Eyes in the Court transform poaching rates in Kenya

Nairobi, 31 May 2016: WildlifeDirect announces the launch of its second Courtroom Monitoring Report, detailing the outcomes of wildlife crime trials at courts across Kenya during 2014–2015. “By holding the judiciary to account, the programme ‘Eyes in the Courtroom’ provides for the first time, a window into the effectiveness of prosecutions in Kenyan courts, information which has led to major reforms in the charging decisions, filing, and management of wildlife trials”, said Philip Mugor, Chairman of WildlifeDirect-Kenya and former Director of Public Prosecutions.

The report analyses data gathered in 50 courtrooms during the first two years of implementation of the Wildlife Conservation & Management Act, 2013.

An earlier survey by WildlifeDirect concluded that low penalties and corruption in courts made Kenya a safe haven leading to escalating poaching and trafficking of ivory across the country. Since the enactment of the new law with severe penalties, and the implementation of major judicial reforms, poaching rates have collapsed dramatically and Kenya’s elephant populations are now on the rise. WildlifeDirect’s ‘Eyes in the Courtroom’ now reports significant improvements in courtroom record keeping and effectiveness of prosecutions and courts across the country are imposing harsh penalties laid down in the new Wildlife Act. Twice as many people are going to jail than before, and for the first time in history, suspected major ivory traffickers are being prosecuted, most notably Feisal Mohamed Ali who is linked to a seizure of 2.1 tons of ivory seized in the Kenyan port town of Mombasa.

However, the team of lawyers also warn that endemic delays and corruption mean that too many criminals are still walking free from the courts. WildlifeDirect has exposed on numerous occasions the fact that to date no high-level ivory trafficker has been convicted and sentenced by Kenyan courts. The undermining of wildlife trials by corruption is the elephant in the room. Numerous cases are failing due to low level corruption which includes the loss of evidence, witnesses fatigue, loss of files, wrong charges, wrongful conclusions, and illegal penalties. What’s worse is that there are no consequences for those involved in undermining these cases. Virtually none of the officers involved have been disciplined, let alone sacked or prosecuted. What message does it send to fellow officers when a policeman commanding a station gets away with compromising evidence? It’s true that in many cases it’s hard to distinguish corruption from simple inefficiency. But whether the officers involved are complicit in corruption or simply incompetent, it is unacceptable that Kenyan tax payers continue to pay for their salaries.

Efforts must be focussed on investigations, evidence, prosecutions and speedy trial conclusions with deterrent punishments in order for the Kenyan court system to have a decisive deterrent effect on wildlife criminals. “Eyes in the Courtroom is an innovative project with the potential to end the impunity of wildlife criminals not just in Kenya but across Africa. While this latest report gives hope it also highlights just how much remains to be done if these iconic species are to be effectively protected by the law,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Founder of Save the Elephants.
The report concludes that, while much has improved, Kenya has not achieved the desired situation. The research was funded by Save the Elephants.

# # #
WildlifeDirect is a Kenya and US registered charitable organization founded by Richard Leakey and chaired in Kenya by Senior Advocate and former DPP Philip Murgor. We seek justice for wildlife to ensure Africa’s magnificent wildlife endures forever.

Press contact: Patricia Sewe, Communications Manager, WildlifeDirect:
Mobile: +254 705 515709 | Email: [email protected]

Speech: Kitili Mbathi, Director General-KWS

Speech: Philip Murgor, Board Chair-WildlifeDirect (Kenya)

KWS and IFAW Launch Partnership to Help Curb Elephant Poaching

KWS and IFAW launch partnership to help curb elephant poaching

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) have launched a partnership designed to protect elephants and curb the increasing poaching crisis.

The IFAW’s tenBoma initiative was launched yesterday by Prof. Judi Wakhungu, the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.

The thinking behind tenBoma has been derived from ‘Nyumba Kumi’(Kiswahili for ten homes)’, a community policing initiative launched by the Kenyan government. Under this partnership, the tenBoma initiative will expand to include Kenya’s national parks and surrounding areas to form a network to protect wildlife and communities from criminal poaching gangs.

“Kenya is determined to protect our elephants, we will do everything in our power to destroy the poaching networks and we are proud to be involved in this innovative pilot project,” said Prof. Wakhungu.

The project will be conducted in two phases with the first stage ensuring that KWS rangers have the equipment and training they need to collect valuable data.

The second phase will integrate a collaborative geospatial monitoring platform to marry data collection with targeted analysis and dissemination of information to identify poaching associated indicators. Targeted analysis of the information will be conducted to identify patterns in poaching related activities that enables KWS to intercept poachers prior to the elephants’ slaughter.

“This is tremendously important to the Kenya Wildlife Service. Too often our officers are confronted with the carcasses of elephants and are battling to solve the crime after it has happened. This project could ensure that we have the intelligence we need to strike first,’’ said William Kiprono, the Acting Director General of KWS.

According to IFAW, the tenBoma project builds upon lessons learned and experience gained from successfully applying network targeting analysis and information sharing principals to support counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations.

“This partnership makes innovative use of the most powerful weapon we have in this fight—information,” said Azzedine Downes, the President and CEO of IFAW.

“Over a relatively short period of time we will be able to determine if there are patterns that will help to ensure that the KWS have enforcement officers deployed to the right area at the right time, effectively heading off poaching incidents. For too long the focus has been on monitoring species and products and not enough attention has been given to the networks that drive the illicit trade. tenBoma seeks to fill this gap,” said Mr. Downes.

IFAW says tenBoma represents the latest evolution of IFAW’s efforts to smash every link in the illegal wildlife trade chain: from supporting poaching patrols in Africa, and working with INTERPOL and national governments on stings, to training customs officers in transit countries including the Middle East and demand reduction campaigns in China.

 

TRAFFIC’s e-commerce monitoring reveals shifting illegal wildlife trade market in China

TRAFFIC Press Release
March 3, 2015
Beijing, China, 3rd March 2015—Transactions for illegal wildlife products, particularly ivory, are shifting away from online retailers and onto social media platforms according to TRAFFIC’s research into the Chinese-language online retail community.
This is a key finding of a new report, Moving targets: Tracking online sales of illegal wildlife products in China (PDF, 1 MB), which discloses the results of routine market monitoring of China’s online retailers that began in 2006 and is released today, World Wildlife Day.
At its peak in March 2012, more than 4,000 new advertisements per month for illegal wildlife products were appearing online on Chinese language online retail websites, finds the new report. More than half of the illegal products offered comprised ivory items.
However, following advertisement removal and blocking of code words used to describe illegal products through regular exchange with e-commerce and enforcement agencies by TRAFFIC, this fell dramatically to around 1,500 from July 2012 and has remained around that level ever since.
“Major online retailers in China have been important allies in efforts to stamp out illegal wildlife trade, and their efforts have resulted in a sustained decrease in advertisements for such goods, yet the high number of such advertisements remains of concern and we are also seeing a shift in the way such transactions now take place,” said Zhou Fei, Head of TRAFFIC’s China Office.
One change has been an increase in the number of code words used by sellers to conceal the identity of their goods, from 15 code words used in 2012 to 64 identified and monitored by TRAFFIC today. At least 22 code words exist for ivory, including terms such as “African materials, yellow materials, white plastic, jelly”.
All 64 code words are searched each month by TRAFFIC on 25 e-commerce and antique selling websites for eight wildlife products — ivory, rhino horn, Tiger bone, hawksbill shells, pangolin scales, leopard bones, Saiga horn and Hornbill casques.
There has also been evidence of the move to social media, where dealers release photos and information about illegal wildlife products in order to attract and interact with potential customers. Some dealers also use “agents” to extend their audiences by re-posting the information about illegal wildlife products onto their own social media platform.
“The shift into the secretive world of social media marketing creates a whole new suite of challenges, with enforcement agencies constantly seeking to keep one step ahead of the traffickers,” said Yannick Kuehl, TRAFFIC’s Regional Director for East and South Asia.
“Monitoring and policing this underground marketplace must become a top enforcement priority—it appears criminals are using it to carry out their clandestine activities.”
1. China has the world’s biggest online community with an estimated USD 274.6 billion spent in online trade in 2014.
2. The number of new illegal wildlife products observed by TRAFFIC online fell dramatically, as did the total number of such advertisements: In January 2012, TRAFFIC discovered almost 30,000 advertisements for five illegal wildlife products on 15 websites then surveyed. This rose to more than 50,000 in the next two months but dropped again in April 2012 to around 30,000 after TRAFFIC contacted and shared the monitoring results with website managers, several of whom immediately deleted the identified advertisements.
Number of monthly new wildlife products advertisements (January 2012-September 2014)
Number of total illegal wildlife product advertisements in monitored Chinese-language websites (January 2012-September 2014)
3. Download Moving targets: Tracking online sales of illegal wildlife products in China (PDF, 1 MB).
4. TRAFFIC was founded in 1976 and is the leading non-governmental organization working globally on trade in wild animals and plants.
5. This project is implemented in co-operation with GIZ, on behalf of and financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
6. Other donors included WWF-UK

Suspended Prison Sentence for Beijing Immigration Officer Aiding Ivory Import (China/Burundi)

Wujin News Portal
Feb. 18th, 2015
Former Immigration Officer at Beijing International Border Inspection, sir named Zhu received a 3-year suspended prison sentence for helping Chinese passenger LI Hongli returning from Africa to smuggle ivory products into the country. Their interaction was observed in a controlled-delivery operation by Customs. They were caught at the Custom Inspection point at Beijing International Airport, trying to smuggle 12.98 kg of ivory. Li was sentenced to 5 years in prison. The sentences were handed out by Beijing Mid-Level Third Court.
In August 2013, 37-year old Li went to Kenya to watch the wildlife migration. From Kenya he went on to Burundi, where he found ivory for sale on the markets. Knowing that it is illegal to take ivory back to China, he was attracted by the low price. He purchased necklaces, bracelets, name seals, chess sets and statues made of ivory, spending $3000.
Li’s contacts back home helped him find Zhu who has access to secure areas at Beijing Airport. She agreed to help Li. On September 6, 2013, upon arrival at Beijing airport, Li met Zhu at the luggage carousel and gave her a piece of his checked luggage to clear Customs. Unbeknownst to them, Customs had inspected the plane cargo when it landed and identified the two pieces of luggage suspected of containing ivory. They followed the pair and caught them red handed when Zhu try to evade X-ray inspection of the luggage using her airport special pass.
One of the arguments used by Li’s defense lawyer was that there is a legal domestic ivory market in Burundi. Li’s purchase of ivory was legal. And that he intended to use the ivory for the purpose of personal use and gifting, not for sale. Zhu received a suspended sentence because she pleaded guilty, claimed not knowing the exact amount of the contraband and was only an accomplice to the crime.

Entebbe police delays ivory, pangolin case (Uganda)

New Vision
January 31, 2015
A week after wildlife officials impounded 791kg of ivory and 2,029kg of pangolin scales, details have emerged that the cargo was escorted by armed personnel to Entebbe International Airport.
Sources say attempts were made to bribe Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) officials at Entebbe to turn a blind eye to the cargo, which was destined for the Netherlands. Two of the officials refused to take the bribe and turned the tables against their colleagues, who had connived with the traffickers.
The cargo was cleared as “telecommunication equipment” from MTN that was being shipped to the Netherlands for repair, according to documents obtained by Saturday Vision.
When contacted about the matter, MTN officials in Kampala distanced themselves from the deal.
“I do not know anything about this case and we have not been approached by the Police or UWA,” said Anthony Katamba, MTN’s corporate affairs manager.
“MTN is a busy telephone company. We have no time for exporting ivory. We do not even know how much it costs. It should be obvious to you that somebody is using our name to deal in ivory.”
Asked why the suspects are delaying to appear in court, the commandant of Aviation Police, Lodovick Awita, said he was in Moroto and referred Saturday Vision to the officers investigating the case for a comment.
The officer in charge of criminal investigations at Entebbe, Makaris Erico, noted that he needed time to consult his colleagues, saying he would get back to the writer in 10 minutes.
However, he did not call back or pick repeated phone calls on his known cellphone.
According to Aviation Police at Entebbe, a cargo handler and clearing agent were arrested immediately after the deal was uncovered.
The driver of the truck that delivered the cargo, according to sources, took the team of wildlife officials and the Police to the house in Bunamwaya, Wakiso district, where the ivory and pangolin scales were loaded.
A weighing scale, ivory moulding machine and pangolin scales were recovered.
 “The suspect in whose house evidence was recovered would be a prime suspect,” a source said, adding: “I do not see why they do not charge the suspects. This is a case where somebody was caught red-handed.”
According to sources, this could end up like many high-profile cases of wildlife crimes that have been reported to Police, but charges have never been brought against the suspects.

 

Agencies curtail ivory smuggling (China)

China Daily
January 30, 2015
Officers from the State Forestry Administration and the General Administration of Customs destroy 6.1 tons of illegal ivory items in Dongguan, Guangdong province, in January last year. It was the first time China destroyed confiscated elephant ivory. Li Xin / Xinhua
China will continue its efforts to protect African elephants and curb the illegal ivory trade by cracking down on the black market.
“Combating the ivory trade and wildlife smuggling has always been a core task for China’s law enforcement agencies,” said Liu Dongsheng, deputy director of the State Forestry Administration, China’s wildlife watchdog. And they are making a difference, he said.
“The number of illegal wildlife smuggling cases in 2014 dropped 70 percent from 2013,” Liu said. Next, he said, “China will get tougher toward illicit tusks.”
At the same time, China has strengthened its supervision of Internet channels that are providing a fast, covert means of covering up illegal transactions.
According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, at least 18,590 animal-related items were for sale online in the country at the beginning of last year. Nearly 79 percent involved ivory.
The Forestry Administration has guided e-commerce platforms and logistics companies to cease providing the means for illegal trading in animal and plant products, including the means to advertise.
It also encouraged the public to decline, and also report, illegal ivory trade to the administration.
China has long been criticized as the world’s biggest importer of ivory and blamed as being responsible for most African elephant poaching.
A report released by the nonprofit organization Save the Elephants and The Aspinall Foundation in December said skyrocketing demand for ivory in China has led to a smuggling boom that is driving the unsustainable killing of elephants.
The report also said the growing legitimate ivory trade in China is providing a smoke screen for illegal activity. It said “the system is presently out of control”.
Meng Xianlin, executive director general of the Endangered Species Import and Export Management Office of China, said, “The truth is, the ivory market in China is shrinking, and China will gradually cut the number of licenses for retail outlets.
“The weight of authorized raw ivory in China every year is about 5 tons, but actually only 80 percent of that is made into ivory products,” he said. “And the sales numbers are dropping. The investigation found that the sales of illegal ivory products is way smaller than the legal sales.”
Meng also said consumption in China should not be blamed as being the major cause of the extinction of African elephants. Africa should step up to its own responsibility, he said.
John E. Scanlon, secretary-general of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, agreed that it’s not just China’s responsibility. Other countries need to take responsibility for their own plants and animals and take measures to protect them, he said.
“We need support from source, transit and destination countries,” Scanlon said. “China has been dealing with it responsibly as a destination country, showing great leadership through customs and other enforcement departments.
“Source and transit countries should do the same, taking their responsibility seriously and doing what they can. We are in this together.”
Investors banking on continued increases in the price of ivory appear to be a significant factor in the recent boom, according to a report by Save the Elephants.
According to Gao Yufang, executive director of the Everest Snow Leopard Conservation Center, “Ivory products are perceived as a profitable investment alternative. An international ivory trade ban, inflation, depressed real estate and stock markets, growing disposable income, limited investment options and media hype have all contributed to this.”
CITES and China’s wildlife watchdog are planning to explore how the business sector can help to reduce demand.
“If speculation is, or appears likely to be, one of the key drivers of demand for illegally traded ivory, then intervention in this sector through a well-targeted campaign to end the speculation is warranted,” Scanlon said.

The ivory trade kills people too

Aaron Hall and Andrea Crosta, Al Jazeera
January 24, 2015
If you buy ivory, you kill people.
This is the new reality in an illicit trade responsible for large-scale human exploitation, government corruption, and the funding of rebel movements, terrorists, and criminal syndicates around the world. The imagery and narrative of the global ivory trade is now well known – replete with rotting elephant carcasses littering African national parks, well-tailored ministers and heads of state burning ivory stocks for the camera, and law enforcement officials smiling in front of ship containers of seized ivory.
While, there is no doubt of the many faces of the global ivory trade, there is one element that is too often overlooked – that of the human toll.
The human toll of the ivory trade is the negative impact on the individuals and communities exploited along the chain of custody from Africa, to Asia, and points beyond. It is not just about elephants.
This trade is historically and inexorably linked to the exploitation and enslavement of vulnerable communities in Africa and Asia. It includes governments and countries sucked deeper into the morass of corruption, mismanagement, and taxpayer abuse wrought from public officials supporting criminal interests.
Far reaching implications
It includes the lives affected by the introduction of other illegal activities that overlap with the groups and individuals engaged in the ivory trade – including the trafficking of weapons, drugs and humans.
Like diamonds, gold, coltan or timber; ivory is taking its own place as a conflict resource in sub-Saharan Africa.
International criminal syndicates, corrupt government officials, and some of the world’s most notorious terrorists and militias are fuelling the global trade in illegal ivory.
In 2012, an 18-month investigation conducted by the Elephant Action League (EAL) in collaboration with Maisha Consulting, estimated that the Somalia based al-Shabab organisation was drawing up to 40 percent of funds for salaries from ivory smuggling.
Other groups like the Seleka rebels in the Central African Republic, the Janjaweed in Sudan and the Lords Resistance Army in central Africa have all been tied to ivory smuggling as a means to raise funding for arms and operations. Further, elements of several regional governments in Africa and Asia have been implicated in facilitating the extraction, trade, and export of ivory for personal profit.
The underground ivory supply chain increasingly destabilises already unstable states, and the growth and sophistication of global smuggling networks is outpacing international efforts to stop them. At the same time, the rate of poaching is outpacing the time needed to attempt the behavioural change – in the primarily Asian consumption markets – necessary to stop the demand for it.
What that means, is that in conjunction with new innovative awareness campaigns in Asia, more action is needed on the ground in Africa to prevent the negative social, political, and economic impacts that are derivative of the ivory trade.
Militarising ivory trade
In part, that immediate action must include governments and citizens from western, African, and Asian states facing the responsibilities of addressing the human death and exploitation it perpetuates.
Given the increased complexity and militarisation of the trade, new innovative approaches will be required to reduce it.
In conjunction with new innovative awareness campaigns in Asia, more action is needed on the ground in Africa to prevent the negative social, political, and economic impacts that are derivative of the ivory trade.
This will demand mitigation strategies that occupy a unique space at the nexus of the fields of environmental conservation, public policy, peace and security, counterterrorism, and human rights.
While certainly challenging, addressing the trade through the lens of the human toll potentially presents opportunities for the creation of new tools to pressure necessary policymakers and citizens to take additional action.
For instance, building the law enforcement and witness protection capacity of affected states around the world. Crowdsourcing information through anonymous whistle-blowing mechanisms like WildLeaks.org has proven incredibly effective, however, there is a gap in the ability of states to protect the individuals providing critical information and act on tip-offs.
Informants must know they can be protected and local and international law enforcement must be able to act immediately.
The environment of impunity for corrupt state and private sector individuals involved in the trade is also a fundamental barrier to mitigation. Exploring tough sanctions on individuals and states involved in the trade could make the business of ivory more costly for those involved.
It was the spike in the value of ivory over the past five years that exacerbated this problem. It will be correlated losses from the cost of doing business that will stop it.
In addition to punitive measures, creating public awareness campaigns specifically on the human toll in countries like China and Thailand could go a long way in stemming demand. Showing both governments and consumers in these states that behind every ivory trinket made and sold is a trail of human suffering and exploitation in Africa – something most citizens of those countries are unaware of.
Addressing the trade through the human angle requires a multi-faceted approach incorporating all aspects of those impacted. In conjunction with African and Asian partners it affects our collective security, economic development and partnership, and obligation to the protection of human rights and shared history.
So while wildlife and wildlife conservation is the traditional medium to approach the issue of poaching and trafficking, it is becoming imperative to develop strategies and campaigns that also put a human face on the destruction and exploitation globally.
Andrea Crosta is the founder of Elephant Action League and WildLeaks.
Aaron Hall is an East Africa-based independent consultant and adviser to Elephant Action League/WildLeaks.

Hebei Hengshui Police Seize A Large Consignment Of African Ivory And Apprehend 12 Suspects

19/01/2015

Article by Cui Zhiping and Guo Jianbo

The Hebei Province Public Security Bureau has today revealed that the Public Security Bureau of the Lake City cracked a case it has been tracking for a year, which involved making illegal sales of ivory and ivory products. Up until now, 14 suspects have been arrested, as they were found to be involved in major crimes.

In the fall of 2013, the Hengshui Public Security Bureau went into deep investigation in several villages within its jurisdiction after it learnt that there were persons engaged in ivory carving and secretly selling handicrafts. Once the police had this clue, they immediately launched an investigation, and used a variety of ways to get close to these people, in order to accurately grasp the evidence. However, the vigilance of these suspects was high, and having carved crafts for many years, on weekedays, they would continue working in the jade businesses and other businesses which they operated as cover. They had created a “forum” or “circle”, making it very difficult for people outside the circle to acquire ivory.

In early 2014, after many twists and turns, a piece of ivory was finally floundered. It was identified as a raw material of African ivory. After consultation with members of the circle, the police also learned that due to the unique colour on the ivory and the veins, the real ivory had a very high costs and there were very few imitations in the black market.

The Public Security Bureau attached great importance to the case. Under the guidance of the Bureau Chief, Zhang Zeqiang, the Bureau immediately constituted a team led by the Bureau Deputy Secretary Zhang Xiangning, Captain Du Jianting of the state security, the Public Security Chief Lim Liang, who is also the Deputy head of the task force and others, they started out on months of operation, through which the police participated. They took part in the buying and reselling of the products. This way they took information of the suspects, source of the ivory, processing, sales and other aspects, and in the process investigated each of their social relationships between people, and then one by one screening of the suspicious persons.

In September of 2014, when going through the multiple related cases, they came across a great deal of evidence, which helped the ad hoc police to begin closing down on the net. In the following 3 months, the police have rushed to Beijing, Shandong, Dezhou, Zhengzhou, Henan Province, Nanyang, Nanjing and other places and in the process arrested Wang, Guo, Li and other 12 suspects and seized a large number of African elephant ivory and crafts which included both finished and unfinished products among others. They are all worth more than 100 million yuan (Ksh. 150 million)

Going into 2015, the ad hoc police continue to intensify their efforts and 2 more suspects were forced by the police to surrender. Up to now, the Public Security Bureau has arrested a total of 14 suspects, where all of the arrested suspects are main suspects.

The original version of this article can be found in the following link:  http://news.sina.com.cn/c/2015-01-19/173531417802.shtml

Translated by Chris Kiarie

 

U.S. Ivory Regulation: A Q&A with Craig Hoover, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Kevin P. Ray, National Law Review
January 5, 2015
In response to concerns that poaching of African elephants is rapidly driving the species to extinction, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued Director’s Order No. 210, which tightened previous practice involving the import, export, and sale of African elephant ivory. The changes met with considerable resistance from a wide range of persons, including museum professionals, musicians, antiques dealers, and collectors. There has been not only consternation, but also confusion about what these changes mean for many transactions involving objects that may contain ivory components.
To help provide some clarity on what precipitated these changes, what the changes are, and what impact they may have, I spoke with Craig Hoover, Chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Trade and Conservation Branch, for a brief Q&A.
1.      What precipitated the action taken by USFWS in February 2014? (decimation of African elephant populations, alleged use of ivory sales to fund African and international terrorist activities, emerging international consensus on need to concerted action)
Hoover:  The President’s Executive Order on Combating Wildlife Trafficking [Executive Order, July 1, 2013] called for a whole-of-government approach, including enhancing domestic efforts, to combat wildlife trafficking.  This included taking all appropriate actions within our authority, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, to stop illegal trade in wildlife products.  In light of the dramatic rise in elephant poaching and illegal trade in ivory, and the increasing level of sophistication and organization in that poaching and illegal trade, as well as a clear U.S. role as a consumer market, we determined that a series of administrative actions under our existing authority to further regulate the import, export and domestic sale of elephant ivory was needed.
2.      News reports have alleged that illicit ivory sales have been used to finance terrorist group activities.[1] Has USFWS and/or the international community been monitoring such activities, and was this a motivating factor?
Hoover:  As our focus is on conservation, we largely leave this question to the Department of State, the Department of Defense and other agencies that address terrorism as a more direct mandate. That being said, we are certainly aware of the nexus between wildlife trafficking and insurgent groups and the destabilizing effect that poaching and illegal trade can have on other governments.  Thus, our administrative actions and the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking are positive efforts not just for conservation but also for people, particularly the local communities impacted by poaching and illegal trade.
3.      How was African elephant ivory regulated under U.S. law (including treaty law) prior to issuance of Director’s Order No. 210 (DO210)?
Hoover:  African elephant ivory has been regulated under U.S. laws and regulations, including the African Elephant Conservation Act (AECA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), for many years.  Under the AECA, we’ve had a moratorium on the import of ivory in place since 1989 though, as a matter of enforcement discretion, we allowed the import of certain items to continue. Imports and exports have also been strictly regulated under the ESA and CITES regulations.
4.      How does DO210 modify prior practice with respect to the import, export, sale and transfer of African elephant ivory?
Hoover:  As noted above, the United States has had a moratorium on the import of African elephant ivory since 1989. As a matter of enforcement discretion, we were allowing certain African elephant ivory imports to continue despite the moratorium. DO210 narrowed the scope of those exceptions, particularly by prohibiting all commercial imports regardless of the age of the ivory.  It also limits non-commercial imports to household moves and inheritances, musical instruments, and museum specimens that meet certain requirements. DO210 does not impact possession, sale or domestic transfer of African elephant ivory.  More information about the Director’s Order and its impacts can be found here. [U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Director’s Order No. 210]
5.      Is DO210 part of a concerted effort to combat the illicit killing of African elephants and the sale of their ivory?
Hoover:  As described in the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, DO210 is one of several administrative actions that, when all are completed, will impose a near total ban on the trade in elephant ivory in the United States. We identified these actions as necessary to ensure that the United States, as a market for ivory, is not contributing to poaching and illegal trade, and to position the United States to encourage other countries to take similar actions to address their roles in the ongoing wildlife trafficking crisis.
6.      Why was DO210 amended? What is the effect of this amendment?
Hoover:  We revised DO210 on May 15, 2014 to address concerns, particularly from musicians and museums, about the DO210 criteria we initially laid out in February. This amendment addressed those concerns while still achieving our goal of limiting imports of African elephant ivory to certain non-commercial activities that are not contributing to poaching and illegal trade.  The only change that related to African elephant ivory was to the date after which the item has not subsequently been transferred from one person to another person for financial gain or profit.  The original date was Feb. 26, 1976 (the date the African elephant was first listed under CITES); the amendment changed this date to Feb. 25, 2014 (the date DO210 was issued).
7.      After the effective date of DO210, is any commercial importation or exportation of African elephant ivory permitted?
Hoover:  No commercial import is allowed. As a matter of enforcement discretion, we had been allowing the import of African elephant ivory items that were more than 100 years old. As of the issuance of DO210, we no longer allow the import of any African elephant ivory for commercial purposes, regardless of age. Commercial export of African elephant ivory is allowed under current ESA regulations, provided our general and CITES permitting requirements are met.
8.      After the effective date of DO210, what non-commercial importation or exportation of African elephant ivory is permitted?
Hoover:  We continue to allow the non-commercial import of the following, under certain conditions: sport-hunted trophies; law enforcement and bona fide scientific specimens; and worked elephant ivory that was legally acquired and removed from the wild prior to Feb. 26, 1976 and has not been sold since Feb. 25, 2014, as part of a household move or inheritance (read more), as part of a musical instrument (read more), and as part of a traveling exhibition (read more).
9.      What other types of ivory are used, and how will they be affected by these actions?
Hoover:  These actions will not affect ivory derived from other species such as walrus, warthog, hippopotamus, mammoth and mastodon. Asian elephant ivory is already regulated under the ESA and CITES. Ivory derived from toothed whales is already regulated by the ESA, CITES and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Strict application of the definition of antique may limit some Asian elephant and whale ivory trade. Refer to our Q&A about antiques for more information.
10.  How can I tell the difference between elephant ivory and other types of ivory?
Hoover:  Buyer beware. Proceed with caution if you intend to purchase a product made of ivory. Ask for documentation that shows the species and age of the ivory item you are purchasing. This documentation could include CITES permits or certificates, certified appraisals, documents that detail date and place of manufacture, etc. It is possible to identify elephant ivory from other types of ivory. For more information, please visit the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Forensics Laboratory website.
11.  After the issuance of DO210, is it permissible for a museum or musician to purchase objects that contain African elephant ivory outside of the U.S. and import them into the U.S.?
Hoover:  No. Under the terms of DO210, items containing worked African elephant may not have been transferred from one person to another person for financial gain or profit since Feb. 25, 2014.  Items obtained via a commercial transaction after Feb. 25, 2014, would not qualify for the exceptions for musical instruments or museum specimens.
12.  After the date of DO210, may a museum or musician either import an object containing African elephant ivory into the U.S. or export such an object from the U.S. for temporary travel or exhibition?
Hoover:  Yes.  See the criteria laid out in Section 2 of DO210 for traveling exhibitions and musical instruments.
13.  For a museum wishing to export an object containing African elephant ivory for a temporary exhibition, what is the procedure to be followed?
Hoover:  Export of African elephant ivory is governed by different rules and restrictions.  Commercial export of CITES Pre-Convention worked ivory, including antiques, that meet CITES permitting requirements, is allowed.  Noncommercial exports must meet CITES permitting requirements.  Export of any raw ivory is prohibited under the AECA and ESA.  However, if the item is intended for return to the United States, it must meet the import requirements identified above.
14.  If USFWS determines that an African elephant ivory item is imported contrary to the provisions of AECA, DO210, CITES or ESA requirements, what process is afforded the importer to dispute that determination?
Hoover:  If we determine that the item was imported in violation of relevant wildlife laws and regulations, that item will be refused clearance.  Depending on the particular situation, the item may be seized or made available for re-export.  Congress has given USFWS the authority to seize property and to use non-judicial civil procedures to forfeit the seized property to the United States.  After seizure of the property that the Government intends to pursue in a civil forfeiture action, we issue a letter termed “Notice of Seizure and Proposed Forfeiture” (NOSPF). The NOSPF gives interest holders notice of the seizure and proposed administrative forfeiture of the seized property, notice of the availability of administrative and judicial processes for contesting the proposed forfeiture, and notice of applicable deadlines for utilizing these processes.  The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA) and Interior regulations provide for alternative and not sequential remedies for administrative forfeiture: once notified, an interested party may choose to allow the forfeiture to proceed administratively or may compel the Government to initiate a judicial forfeiture action by filing a claim for the property.  The relevant statute and regulations can be found at 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(2)(B) and 50 C.F.R. 12.23 and 12.24.
 15. What is meant by the ESA antiques exception?
Hoover:  The import, export and interstate sale (sale across state lines) of listed species or their parts is prohibited without an ESA permit except for items that qualify as “antique”.  To qualify as antique, the importer, exporter or seller must show that the item meets all of these criteria:
A.  It is 100 years or older;
B.   It is composed in whole or in part of an ESA-listed species;
C.   It has not been repaired or modified with any such species after December 27, 1973; and
D.  It is being or was imported through an endangered species “antique port.”
Under Director’s Order 210, as a matter of enforcement discretion, items imported prior to September 22, 1982 (the date the “antique ports” were designated), and items created in the United States and never imported must comply with elements A, B, and C above, but not element D.
Because the African elephant is regulated under the ESA via a “special rule”, the ESA exception for antiques does not apply.  Rather, the language of the “special rule” dictates what is allowed and prohibited under the ESA.
16. What is an endangered species antique port?
Hoover:  In establishing the antique exception under the ESA, Congress directed what was then the U.S. Customs Service to identify specific ports of entry where antiques made from endangered and threatened species can be imported. There are 13 of these locations: Boston, Massachusetts; New York, New York; Baltimore, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Miami, Florida; San Juan, Puerto Rico; New Orleans, Louisiana; Houston, Texas; Los Angeles, California; San Francisco, California; Anchorage, Alaska; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Chicago, Illinois.
17.  The Director’s Order refers to worked African elephant ivory that “was legally acquired prior to February 26, 1976.” What does that mean?
Hoover:  February 26, 1976, is the date the African elephant was first listed under CITES (the pre-Convention date). An item that contains African elephant ivory that was removed from the wild prior to February 26, 1976, is considered to be a pre-Convention specimen. This does not mean that the current owner must have purchased or acquired it prior to 1976, but that the item was manufactured from ivory that was taken from the wild prior to 1976. For example, a musical instrument that was manufactured in 1965 using African elephant ivory would be considered a pre-Convention specimen. Likewise, an instrument manufactured in 1985 using ivory acquired by the manufacturer in 1975 would also be considered a pre-Convention specimen. Since it is unlawful to possess specimens that have been traded contrary to CITES or taken in violation of the ESA, the ivory must have been legally acquired.
18.  Can I currently sell elephant ivory products within the United States?
Hoover:  African elephant ivory that a seller can demonstrate was lawfully imported prior to January 18, 1990—the date that the African elephant was listed in CITES Appendix I—and ivory imported under a CITES pre-Convention certificate can be sold within the U.S. (across state lines and within a state) provided that no state laws are violated during the transaction.  Some states have also taken steps to limit commerce in ivory. Asian elephant ivory sold in interstate commerce within the U.S. must meet the strict criteria of the ESA antiques exception.
Because the current rules regarding interstate commerce are different for African elephant ivory compared to Asian elephant ivory, a seller must be able to identify the ivory to species. This could be demonstrated using CITES permits or certificates, a qualified appraisal, or documents that detail date and place of manufacture, etc.
19.  Why is USFWS allowing limited imports for non-commercial purposes to continue, but restricting the commercial importation of antiques made from African elephant ivory?
Hoover:  The U.S. is a market for objects made from African elephant ivory, which drives increasing poaching of wild elephants. We have determined that it must take every administrative and regulatory action to cut off import of raw and worked elephant ivory where that importation is for commercial purposes. Allowing imports for law enforcement and scientific purposes is in line with our mission to help conserve African elephants and stop trafficking in African elephant ivory. The other limited exceptions allow movement into the U.S. of legally possessed African elephant ivory that predates the listing under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) for personal use as part of a household move or inheritance, musical performances, and traveling exhibitions. Each of these types of import must meet specific criteria. And unlike the commercial antiques trade, none of these types of imports has been used extensively by smugglers to “cover” trafficking in newly poached ivory.
 20.  For an object to qualify under the antique exception, what documentation or proof is required?
Hoover:  DO210 Appendix A lays out in great detail the documentation requirements for items to meet the ESA exemption for antiques.
21.  Is ownership and use of personally owned elephant ivory items affected?
Hoover:  Personal possession of legally acquired items containing elephant ivory will remain legal. Worked African elephant ivory imported for personal use as part of a household move or as an inheritance and worked African elephant ivory imported as part of a musical instrument or a traveling exhibition will continue to be allowed provided the worked ivory has not been transferred from one person to another person in pursuit of financial gain or profit after February 25, 2014, and the item is accompanied by a valid CITES document. The import of raw African elephant ivory, other than sport-hunted trophies, is prohibited.
22. May lawfully possessed African elephant ivory be transferred to others?  By gift?  By bequest?  Does a charitable gift or bequest to a museum or other charitable institution qualify as a transfer not “for financial gain” for purposes of DO210 if the donor receives a charitable tax deduction for the donation?
Hoover:  Lawfully imported and possessed African elephant ivory can be used for noncommercial purposes, including transfer, bequest, or charitable gift, within the U.S. Such items can also be sold if the seller can demonstrate that the ivory was lawfully imported prior to the date the African elephant was listed in CITES Appendix I (January 18, 1990) or was imported under a CITES pre-Convention certificate.
We intend to revise the ESA “special rule” for the African elephant, including further restricting sale across state lines.   Before finalizing those regulations, we will publish a proposed rule in theFederal Register for public review and comment.
23.  Are any further modifications to DO210 or to the importation, exportation, or interstate sale of ivory anticipated at this time?
Hoover:  We do not plan to revise DO210.  However, as noted above, we do intend to revise the ESA “special rule” for the African elephant, further restricting interstate sale of ivory and incorporating at least some aspects of DO210 into its regulations.  These regulations will be published as a proposed rule subject to public comment before being finalized, likely in 2015.
Additional information about the USFWS rules concerning the import, export, and sale of ivory is available on the USFWS’s ivory FAQ.
[1] See, e.g., Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex.), “How Poaching Fuels Terrorism Funding,” CNN.com, Oct. 22, 2014, available here;  Johan Bergenas and Monica Medina, “Break the Link Between Terrorism Funding and Poaching,” The Washington Post, January 31, 2014, available here. Others have challenged this claim.  See, e.g., Tristan McConnell, “Illegal Ivory May Not Be Funding African Terror Group,” USA Today, Nov. 14, 2014, available here.