Hong Kong to destroy massive ivory stockpile

Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:28 am

2014-01-24 08:13

Hong Kong – Authorities in Hong Kong will destroy most of its huge stockpile of confiscated illegal ivory in a process that could take up to two years, officials said on Thursday.

The decision comes after similar action by mainland China, the US and the Philippines.

Conservation groups had urged the southern Chinese city's government to dispose of the ivory to send a strong sign it's serious about cracking down on the black market trade that is decimating Africa's elephants.

Hong Kong is a major transhipment point for illegal ivory sent to mainland China and officials have seized about 32.5 tons of ivory in the past decade, making it one of the biggest stockpiles in the world.

Officials now have about 30 tons left in heavily guarded government warehouses after donating small amounts for legitimate purposes such as conservation awareness or scientific research.

Status symbols

Conservation officials said they decided to destroy most of the rest of stockpile "in view of the management burden and the security risk generated by prolonged storage of the forfeited ivory".

They expect to start disposing of the ivory in the first half of 2014. In a sign of just how big the stockpile is, the disposal is expected to take "about one to two years".

China's demand for ivory is soaring as rising incomes mean ivory carvings prized as status symbols are becoming more affordable.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare said in a 2011 report that ivory in China cost as much as $2 400 a kilogram. The group estimates 35 000 elephants a year are killed by poachers for their tusks, risking the animal's extinction in the wild.

Earlier this month, authorities in southern China destroyed about 6 tons of illegal ivory in a surprise move praised by conservation groups. The US and the Philippines destroyed similar amounts last year.


- AP

1.7 tons of ivory seized in Togo

Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:11 am

2014-01-29 10:57

Lome - Togo police have seized about 1.7 tons of ivory loaded in a container in the port of Lome, the country's minister of environment and forest resources said on Tuesday.

"Five hundred and fifty ivory pieces and 77 complete pieces of ivory weighing close to 1 689kg were hidden in sacks inside a a container loaded with wood destined for Vietnam," said Andre Johnson.

"The ivory stock was discovered by a joint security task force checking containers in the port of Lome.

"A clearing agent was arrested. Investigations are under way to find members of the ivory traffickers' network."

The seizure is one of the largest ever recorded by the police.

Last August, the police impounded 700kg of ivory, mostly from Chad from a shop in Lome belonging to a 58-year-old Togolese national.

The convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora (Cites) banned international trade in ivory in 1989.

But trafficking has been on the increase in recent years following a high demand in the Middle East and Asia where elephant tusks are used for the manufacture of decorative objects and in traditional medicine.


- AFP

http://www.news24.com/Green/News/17-ton ... o-20140128

Re: Elephant Poaching & Ivory Trade

Sat Feb 15, 2014 10:10 am

Four African nations spurn ivory sales

by Africa Geographic Editorial on February 14, 2014
Original Source: BBC News

The leaders of four African nations have pledged to honour a 10-year moratorium on sales of ivory. The leaders of Botswana, Gabon, Chad and Tanzania made the statement at a gathering in London to discuss the illegal wildlife trade. The aim is to draw up a global declaration that will tackle animal trafficking.

Prince Charles and The Duke of Cambridge are attending the meeting, hosted by the government. The African leaders have said they will not act on an option to sell from their ivory stockpiles, in an effort to protect elephants.

Conservationists say poaching has reached a crisis point: tens of thousands of elephants, rhinos and tigers are being slaughtered each year. The WWF estimates that the animal black market is worth US$19bn (£12bn) a year.

The bulk of poaching takes place in Africa, but much of the demand comes from Asia, where animal products, such as rhino horns, are used in traditional medicine or are bought by the rich as trophies.

The UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said that delegates at the meeting held at Lancaster House on Thursday would be adopting an “ambitious and powerful” London declaration. This would include a commitment to renouncing the use of any products from species at threat of extinction and a promise to support the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) ban on the international trade on ivory until elephant populations have stabilised.

He also said that poaching and trafficking should be treated as a serious crime, in the same category as drugs, arms and people trafficking. He added: “The illegal wildlife trade is a global problem and it matters deeply to all of us gathered here today. We need to show the world our political commitment at the highest level across the globe to addressing this before it is to late.”

In South Africa, 1 004 rhinos were killed in 2013, and across the whole continent it is estimated that more than 20 000 elephants were slaughtered for their tusks in 2012, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The leaders of four African countries spoke at the start of the meeting. The President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, said: “Last year, we burnt an entire stockpile of ivory to show that Gabon has no tolerance for this.” He said his country had raised the minimum sentence for poaching to three years, and those found guilty of organised crime could be served with life in prison.

However, President Khama of Botswana said that he would put the country’s ivory stockpiles out of reach of the markets. As an additional pledge, the leaders of both African states, as well as the presidents of Chad and Tanzania, have agreed to a moratorium on the ivory trade for at least 10 years, as part of an elephant protection initiative.

While the trade of ivory has been banned under CITES since 1989, some states have been granted permission to sell their ivory stocks in the past. In 1999, CITES authorised a “one-off” sale of stockpiled ivory from Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to Japan, and in 2008 Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe sold their stocks to buyers in China and Japan.

In essence, by issuing a 10-year moratorium, the four African states are saying they will uphold the ban, and not ask for permission from CITES to sell any of their ivory.

Some organisations believe the CITES-sanctioned sales have been the driver for the current rise in demand for ivory, and want to have all ivory sales banned and stockpiles destroyed. Mary Rice, executive director of the Environmental Investigation Agency, said: “We need to learn from history and permanently shut down all ivory trade – international and domestic.”

Delegates from Asia, including those from China and Vietnam where the demand is greatest, did not speak at the opening of the meeting.

Interpol, the international intelligence agency, which will also be present at the meeting, says most of this being driven by organised crime syndicates, who have moved from narcotics and guns onto wildlife.

At a symposium held at the Zoological Society of London on Tuesday and Wednesday, conservationists said the problem needed to be tackled on several different fronts. They said improved legislation was needed, rangers needed support on the ground and the growing demand had to be tackled with education and marketing campaigns.

Heather Sohl, chief adviser on species for WWF-UK, said: “What we really want to see is these world leaders coming together and agreeing strong action for tackling illegal wildlife trafficking, looking at improving law enforcement and criminal justice, reducing the demand for illegal wildlife products, and ensuring sustainable livelihood’s for communities affected by the trade. We need to have strong action and for those people to take that home to their governments and make sure it is implemented at a scale and urgency that is commensurate for the problems we are seeing.”

Re: Elephant Poaching & Ivory Trade

Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:32 am

Heather Sohl, chief adviser on species for WWF-UK, said: “What we really want to see is these world leaders coming together and agreeing strong action for tackling illegal wildlife trafficking, looking at improving law enforcement and criminal justice, reducing the demand for illegal wildlife products, and ensuring sustainable livelihood’s for communities affected by the trade. We need to have strong action and for those people to take that home to their governments and make sure it is implemented at a scale and urgency that is commensurate for the problems we are seeing.”

Re: Elephant Poaching & Ivory Trade

Thu Feb 27, 2014 9:32 am

China’s Top Business Leaders Say No to Ivory

February 26, 2014

BEIJING – Business leaders in China took a public stand today against the ivory trade by signing a pledge to never purchase, possess, or give ivory as a gift. WildAid China Chair, Huang Nubo, spearheaded the effort by 36 prominent Chinese to raise awareness of the ivory poaching crisis. The group includes Charles Chao, CEO of Sina Corp., China’s largest Internet portal, Liu Chuanzhi, Chair of Lenovo, and 10 individuals from the Forbes 2013 China Rich List including Jack Ma, founder of the Alibaba Group.
"As China grows up, Chinese companies should do the same and take on more social responsibility,” said Nubo. “This is why we are joining efforts to protect our planet's wildlife. We hope this ethic becomes engrained in us and is passed down to future generations."
Recent surveys indicate a large portion of China’s population is unaware of the death toll to create ivory and rhino horn products, yet a greater number of residents support government enforced bans. (Read the ivory and rhino horn surveys.)
“The business elite in China, and the public, when aware of the problem, are very supportive of conservation,” said WildAid Executive Director Peter Knights. “We are hopeful that the new administration under President Xi will act decisively to stop ivory trafficking and bring some relief to beleaguered African nations.”
The Chinese government crushed more than six tonnes of its ivory stockpile earlier this year and is considering ending legal ivory sales, which have been shown to enable laundering of poached ivory.
With support from Chinese state media WildAid campaigns with celebrity ambassadors to reduce the demand of endangered wildlife products including shark fin, ivory, and rhino horn. Its shark fin campaign contributed to a reported 50% decline in the shark fin trade. In April 2013 the African Wildlife Foundation, Save the Elephants, WildAid, and the Yao Ming Foundation launched ivory and rhino horn campaigns in China.

The Ivory Pledge and its signatories are copied below:

Ivory Pledge
In recent years, poaching as a result of the trade in illegal ivory is posing enormous threats to the survival of elephants. I'm aware of the following:
1. Each year around 25,000 African elephants are killed for their ivory
2. The population of elephants has declined 62% in the last 10 years
3. Rampant elephant poaching is having negative impacts on the economy, tourism, and national security of many African nations
4. Terrorist groups in Africa are being supported in part through the illegal ivory trade
5. According to official reports and statistics, China is the largest importer of illegal ivory, and Chinese nationals are increasingly involved in the illegal ivory trade
6. Illegal ivory trade is damaging China's international reputation.
Because of this, I pledge the following:
1. I will not purchase, possess, or give ivory as a gift
2. I will encourage friends, family, and employees to not purchase ivory products

Signatories
Cao Guowei (Charles Chao) – CEO, Sina Corp
Deng Feng – CEO and Chairman, Beiji Guangfeng Investment Fund
Ding Liguo – Founder, Liguo Corp.
Feng Lun – Chairman, Vantone Holdings
Huang Nubo – Chairman, Zhongkun Group
Jiang Xipei – Chairman, Yuandong Holdings
Li Dongsheng – Chairman, TCL Group
Li Shufu – Chairman, Geely Group
Li Zhenfu – China Regional President, Novartis Pharmaceuticals
Liu Chuanzhi – Chairman, Lenovo
Liu Donghua – Founder, Zhenghedao Group
Liu Jiren – Chairman, Dongruan Group
Liu Jun – Deputy Chairman, Guangxi People’s Congress Committee
Ma Yun (Jack Ma) – Founder, Alibaba Group
Niu Gensheng – Founder, Lao Niu Foundation
Shen Guojun – CEO and Chairman, Yintai Holdings Corp.
Tang Yue – Founding Partner, Blue Mountain China Capital
Wang Chaoyong – Founder and President, Xinzhongli International Holdings
Wang Junhao – Deputy Chairman, Junyao Group
Wang Lifen – Founder, Beijing Youshimi Internet Technology Co. Ltd.
Wang Wenjing – CEO and Chairman, Yongyou Software Corp.
Wang Zhongjun – Chairman, Huaiyi Brothers Media Corp.
Wu Jianmin – Deputy Director, China External Affairs Committee
Wu Yajun – Chairman, Longhu Group
Xia Hua – Chairman, Yiwen Enterprise Group
Xie Mian – Art and culture critic
Xu Shaochun – Founder, Jindie Software Group
Xu Zhihong – Scholar, China Academy of Science
Yang Shaopeng – Chairman, Haifeng International Shipping Corp.
Yu Minhong – Founder, New Oriental Group
Yuan Yue – Chaiman, Lingdian Consulting
Zhang Weiying – Renowned Economist
Zhang Xingsheng ( Jim Zhang) – Managing Directory, The Nature Conservancy Greater China Region
Zhou Qiren – Dean, Peking University National Development Academy
Zhou Qifeng – Renowned Chemist
Zhu Xinli – Chairman, Beijing Huiyuan Beverage Company

Re: Elephant Poaching & Ivory Trade

Sat Dec 31, 2016 5:23 pm

China to ban domestic ivory trade by end of 2017

Poaching is a major factor contributing to the rapid decline in the numbers of African elephants, with about 20,000 slaughtered every year.

Reuters | about 2 hours ago

HONG KONG - China will slap a total ban on the domestic ivory trade within a year, the government announced on Friday, shutting the door to the world's biggest end-market for poached ivory.

The State Council said in a notice a complete ban would be enforced by 31 December 2017. The first batch of factories and shops will need to close and hand in their licenses by 31 March 2017.

Conservation groups applauded the ban, with WildAid's wildlife campaigner Alex Hofford calling it "the biggest and best conservation news of 2016".

Environmentalists say poached ivory can be disguised as legal as long as trade is allowed in licensed outlets on the high street and online.

Poaching is a major factor contributing to the rapid decline in the numbers of African elephants, with about 20,000 slaughtered every year, according to the WWF.

It says about 415,000 African elephants remain today, compared with the 3 to 5 million in the early 20th century. The animal is officially listed as a vulnerable species.

People with ivory products previously obtained through legal means can apply for certification and continue to display them in exhibitions and museums, the government announcement said.

The auction of legally obtained ivory antiques, under "strict supervision", will also be allowed after obtaining authorisation. The government will also crack down on law enforcement and boost education, it added.

WWF Hong Kong's senior wildlife crime officer Cheryl Lo said the bold timeline "shows determination to help save Africa's elephants from extinction".

"A ban clearly requires strong enforcement and support from the government to be most effective. But together with China's announcement, now that three of the world’s largest domestic ivory markets, that is China, Hong Kong and the US, are being phased out," Lo said in a statement.

The United States enacted a near-total ban on commercial trade in ivory from African elephants in June.

Campaigners are urging the Hong Kong government to speed up its plan of phasing out the local ivory trade by the end of 2021.

The former British colony, now Chinese-ruled but governed by different laws under a "one country, two systems" arrangement, allows trade of "pre-convention ivory", or ivory products acquired before 1975.

The financial centre also remains an important transit and consumption hub for illegal ivory to China and the rest of Asia.

Chinese ivory traders have also tried to pre-empt the move, WildAid's Hofford said, with some carvers setting up shops in Laos and Myanmar and other traders moving their products "offshore" to places such as Hong Kong.

http://ewn.co.za/2016/12/31/china-to-ba ... nd-of-2017

Re: Elephant Poaching & Ivory Trade

Sat Dec 31, 2016 8:34 pm

^Q^ ^Q^ O/\ O/\ O\/ O\/

Re: Elephant Poaching & Ivory Trade

Sun Jan 01, 2017 8:19 am

Hope it has some effect... 0()

Re: Elephant Poaching & Ivory Trade

Thu Mar 30, 2017 10:12 am

Chinese demand for elephant ivory drops, new report says

Image

Nairobi - The price of ivory in China has dropped sharply as the country plans to end the legal trade in ivory later this year, a leading elephant conservation group said in a new report on Wednesday.

Chinese demand for tusks has been driving African elephants toward extinction, experts say.

The Chinese government in recent years has taken steps to stop the trade in ivory, which is used for ornamentation and souvenirs. China's ivory factories are to be shut down by Friday, followed by the closing of retail outlets by the end of this year.

The new report surveys the price of ivory in markets across China between 2014 and early this year. It found the price dropped from $2 100 per kilogram in early 2014 to $730 in February.

Conservationists say tens of thousands of elephants have been killed in Africa in recent years as demand for ivory in Asia, particularly China, increased.

Past estimates of Africa's elephant population have ranged from 420 000 to 650 000.

Some conservationists estimate that up to 20 000 elephants are killed by poachers every year to meet demand.

"This is a critical period for elephants," said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, president and founder of Save the Elephants, which carried out the research.

"With the end of the legal ivory trade in China, the survival chances for elephants have distinctly improved. We must give credit to China for having done the right thing by closing the ivory trade. There is still a long way to go to end the excessive killing of elephants for ivory, but there is now greater hope for the species."

Other factors behind the drop in the price of ivory include an economic slowdown in China resulting in fewer people being able to afford luxury goods, and a crackdown on corruption that has dissuaded business people from buying expensive ivory items as "favors" for government officials, the new report says.

"Findings from 2015 and 2016 in China have shown that the legal ivory trade especially has been severely diminished," said Lucy Vigne, a researcher with Save The Elephants.

The 130 licensed outlets in China gradually have been reducing the quantity of ivory items on display for sale, and recently have been cutting prices to improve sales, the report says.

By 2015, some of China's main licensed retail ivory outlets were closed at the time of the researchers' visit due to slow sales. In other cases, vendors were replacing elephant ivory displays with mammoth ivory dug out of the Russian tundra.

China continues to be the largest consumer of mammoth ivory, whose price also has dropped from $1 900 per kilogram in 2014 to $730 this year, the report said.

Wildlife authorities in Kenya, the main conduit of ivory smuggling in the region, welcomed the news of a price reduction in China.

"Once they don't have an appetite for ivory it will no longer be attractive to kill elephants. We are hopeful that China will meet this deadline (to ban the ivory trade) and we will see our elephant populations restored in the parks," said Patrick Omondi, the deputy director in charge of species at the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Re: Elephant Poaching & Ivory Trade

Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:40 am

Conservationists cast doubt on China’s ivory trade ban amid corruption fears

Image
BY MATTHEW CARNEY - APRIL 2017 - HTTP://WWW.ABC.NET.AU

The Chinese Government has delivered on a promise to ban the ivory trade by starting to close some of the 34 licensed carving factories and 130 retailers.

The move is seen by many, including some conservationists, as a game-changer in saving the African elephants. But others said the move would have little impact because the Government was powerless to stop the booming underground ivory trade.

Beijing Ivory Carving Factory is one of the companies that will close in the coming months. It is one of the most prestigious ivory carving centres in China and in its day it supplied the finest to the last emperors.

Pieces, ranging from entire carved tusks to smaller intricate figures, can take months, even years, to complete.

Image
PHOTO: Master ivory carver, Luan Yanjun, will lose his job when the Beijing Ivory Factory closes. (ABC News)

Master ivory carver Luan Yanjun is deeply saddened by the ban.

“I’ve been doing this job for years and I don’t want to see this tradition disappear. Its part of our culture,” he said. He believes his work honours the elephant.

“It’s made as a piece of artwork and it continues the life of an elephant. It’s exquisite and it prolongs its life,” he said.

In the showroom, general manager Xiao Guangyi keeps some of the finest and most valuable works dating back 500 years. He says it was unfair his company had been targeted.

He said the company acted within the law and every piece he sold was registered, with a picture of the item, and a legal certificate that declared the ivory did not come from poachers.

“China has an extremely tight control on ivory products,” he said.

“We have a collection certificate for every product and it will record the material we are using. No other country has this strict control.”

Closing the legal market in China will not stop the slaughter of African elephants — demand is being fuelled by China’s rising middle classes and ivory is still seen as the ultimate status symbol.

About 90 per cent of all the ivory trade happens underground, illegally and online.

It is not hard to find illegal ivory. In the antique centres of Beijing, unregistered dealers operate in the open and there are no certificates.

One vendor told 7.30 there was no need for them.

Andrea Crosta, conservationist and executive director of the Elephant Action League and lead investigator in its 2015 undercover investigation of the illegal ivory market, said China was by far the biggest destination for illegal ivory.

“All the traders we meet confirmed there is much more illegal than legal in China,” he said.

“Our assessment is that there is at least 1,000 tons of illegal ivory in China right now, hidden, stockpiled by traders, carvers and investors.”

Using secret cameras and posing as wealthy buyers from Taiwan, the Elephant Action League targeted one of the biggest offenders — Beijing Mammoth Art.

It has five shops in Beijing and runs a string of companies around the world.

On camera, the boss tells them how Hong Kong is used to bring in poached ivory from Africa and how officials are bribed to get the right paperwork.

“We just imported around 900 kilograms from Hong Kong, you have to have the documents form the Ministry of Forestry,” he said.

“Documents are hard to get, and you can’t get it done if you do not know the right people.”

He then showed the investigators his computer records of the fake documents, and told them it was easy to get because they have a company in Hong Kong.

“These are from Hong Kong, these are the documents we got,” he said.

He goes on to say the false documents allow him to sell the poached ivory as legal produce in mainland China.

The boss showed the undercover investigators three rooms full of raw ivory tusks.

About 50 tusks can be seen but the boss said it was just a fraction of what he had to offer.

He told the investigator Beijing Mammoth Art also runs a trophy-hunting business in Africa as another way to secure poached ivory.

The Chinese Government has not responded to the allegations of corruption and bribery arising from the investigation, but said one senior official from the company had been removed.

When 7:30 went down to Panjiayuan Antique complex in Beijing, it found Beijing Mammoth Art still selling ivory in two of its stores.

Ms Crosta said the problem would not be fixed until the Government rooted out corruption in its own ranks.

“There is systematic, endemic corruption,” he said.

“For example, we found out some of the legal traders in ivory in their companies, as part of the companies, had government officials that could facilitate many things.”

Online sales ‘quite rampant’


PHOTO: Ivory products are easy to purchase through social media sites such as WeChat. (ABC News: Martin Cuddihy)
The other great threat to the survival of the elephant is that most of the illegal trade in China is now done online.

It is simple to buy but much more difficult to police.

Buyers go to one of the major antique websites, then put in code words for ivory-like blood materials, African materials, African plastic or XY and then hundreds of ivory products, from chopsticks, bangles, carved tusks and Buddha statues appear.

For actual sales, you are usually directed to agents on Chinese social media site WeChat, and there are hundreds of them.

7.30 was in contact with one vendor for about a month, posing as customer.

Every day she released hundreds of photos of new products on her site.

The vendor even offered tiger bones and tiger wine, which were banned back in 1993 but seemingly still doing a thriving trade.

The customer buys online using the WeChat account and a courier is organised to drop it to your home.

It is a lucrative business and buyers can easily evade capture by closing down and setting up new accounts and sites.

Under Chinese law what they are doing is cybercrime but Chinese authorities do not have the resources or will to control it.

‘China doesn’t care about elephants’

Image
PHOTO: An elephant and her calf in the Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. (Supplied: Gina Poole)

The World Wide Fund for Nature, in collaboration with animal welfare group Traffic, are the only groups in China trying to understand the nature of the illegal online trade.

Zhou Fei, director of China’s Traffic Office said the authorities were not confronting the issue.

“Their capacity is quite limited, wildlife crime is not on their top list. These online sales are quite rampant,” he said.

Conservationists like Ms Crosta said the ban on the legal ivory was only a first step and a massive education program is needed.

“China doesn’t care about elephants, it’s not in their culture yet,” he said.

“The ban is not out of care, it’s just a reaction to international pressure from governments and, behind the scenes, from Prince William and the Obama administration.”

If the African elephants are to have a future, conservationists say, the illegal markets in China have to be shut down immediately.

Each year 30,000 elephants are being poached, faster than they can reproduce, and in some parts of Africa they are already near extinction.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-06/c ... an/8399992