EU, Japan in the spotlight over failure to close ivory markets


Pauline Kairu, The Daily Nation

Date Published

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African elephant range States want the West compelled to inform the African Elephant Coalition on the status of the legality of their domestic ivory markets and to close those markets that contribute to poaching or illegal trade as a matter of urgency.

The call was contained in a proposal submitted by Kenya, Congo, Burkina Faso and Niger on behalf of the 29 member countries of the Coalition at the Cites’ (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) 69th meeting of the Standing Committee in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday.


In the spotlight are the European Union (EU) and Japan, which, despite amendments to wildlife trade regulations, are still playing an active role in the ivory trade.

As Cites parties, the EU and Japan have an obligation to ensure domestic trade in ivory does not contribute to poaching or to illegal trade.

In light of the on-going concerns, the coalition wants the two included within the Cites National Ivory Action Plans (NIAPs) evaluation process that identifies parties of “primary concern”, Parties of “secondary concern” and Parties of “importance to watch” to strengthen their controls of the trade in ivory and ivory markets, and help combat the illegal trade in ivory.

The African countries argue that lack of regulation for products other than whole tusks was found to present severe challenges in identifying and preventing illegal ivory flows.

“The EU adopted new guidance effective July, 1 2017, to prohibit the re-export of stockpiled raw ivory. But there remains significant concern because of the EU’s retention of a major domestic internal market, including trade in ivory antiques where intra-EU commerce does not require any Cites permits or documentation,” noted the African coalition.

Japan has a significant ivory market but has argued that its domestic market does not contain illegal ivory and that the recent Cites recommendation on closure of domestic markets does not apply.

The US is also in the limelight after President Trump’s administration said it would allow hunters to import trophies of elephants killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia.