AboutZoos, Since 2008


Ille­gal Ivory Trade flour­ishes, proven by recent confiscations

pub­lished 24 April 2011 | mod­i­fied 21 April 2012

Three suc­cess­ful major ivory seizures this April by law enforcers in Thai­land, Viet­nam and China pro­vide fur­ther insight into the mar­kets being tar­geted by orga­nized crime syn­di­cates smug­gling ele­phant ivory from Africa to Asia. In Thai­land 247 ivory tusks con­cealed in a con­sign­ment of frozen fish from Kenya were seized by Cus­toms on 1st April. A few days ago, on 19th April, media in Viet­nam reported that police had seized 122 tusks found in a ware­house in Mong Cai, at the bor­der with China. That very same day Chi­nese media reported an enor­mous ivory seizure, 707 tusks, 32 ivory bracelets and a rhino horn, found dur­ing a rou­tine inspec­tion of a large truck, a few kilo­me­ters from Vietnam’s border.

More than 500 ele­phants have been killed, by poach­ing, for this ille­gal trade of ivory, which is a major con­ser­va­tion con­cern. These seizures sup­port the sus­pi­cion that Thai­land an China still are the pri­mary end-​use des­ti­na­tions for this ivory com­ing from Africa. It also sug­gests that Viet­nam is now serv­ing as the major hub for trade into China.The increase of ille­gal ivory trade from 2004 onwards is very alarm­ing, and these lat­est con­fis­ca­tions proves that smug­gling of ivory and its cor­re­spond­ing ille­gal busi­ness is ongo­ing. Peo­ple in charge of this ivory trade are work­ing in sophis­ti­cated crim­i­nal net­works, which utilise every means avail­able (road, sea and air) to smug­gle their con­tra­band from African to lucra­tive mar­kets in Asia.

While major seizures, arrests and pros­e­cu­tions are cer­tainly deter­rents to these smug­gling oper­a­tions, the only long-​term solu­tion to cur­tail ele­phant poach­ing has to be to reduce the demand for ille­gally sourced ivory to neg­li­gi­ble lev­els.” said Tom Mil­liken, TRAFFIC’s expert on the illicit ivory trade. (Source: TRAF­FIC, 20.04.2011)

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Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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