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May 16, 2017

European Commission applauded for ending raw ivory exports

Humane Society International urges European Commission to expand policy to include prohibitions on worked ivory products

Humane Society International/Europe

  • Seized ivory about to be destroyed in the United States. The European Commission will now prohibit the export of raw ivory tusks (pictured on the right of the image), but not worked ivory products (on the left of the image). US FWS

The European Commission today announced that it would end the export of old raw ivory by 1st July 2017 following the adoption of a new EU guidance on ivory trade. From this date onwards, EU Member States will no longer be able to issue export documents for raw ivory, unless it is for scientific or educational purposes. Humane Society International/Europe’s executive director Joanna Swabe issued the following statement:

“We welcome the European Commission’s decision to halt exports of raw ivory. Legal export of significant numbers of ivory tusks and other ivory products from the EU to Asia created a serious risk of illegal ivory being laundered into the legal trade. EU should not be a facilitator of ivory trafficking and perpetuating ivory consumption. Global demand for ivory has led to a poaching epidemic and the severe decimation of elephant populations. Profits made from this cruel trade have also been used to fund organised crime and terrorism. While we applaud the European Commission for introducing this new guidance on ivory trade, Humane Society International/Europe believes that the EU must go much further and take action to end the trade in all ivory and worked ivory products irrespective of its age. With the imminent closure of China’s ivory market by the end of this year and steps taken recently to restrict ivory sales in the U.S., it is incumbent upon the remaining significant ivory markets, such as the EU, to step up to the plate and do their part. It is only with these stringent measures that the EU can help to put an end to ivory trafficking and secure the future survival of the elephant in the wild.”

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  • Under the present EU ivory trade rules, ivory trade is banned, except for items acquired before 1990, when all African elephants obtained the maximum protection under CITES.
  • The EU is the world's largest exporter of pre-convention ivory—ivory acquired before the entry into force of CITES in 1975.
  • Between 2011 and 2014, member states reported seizures of around 4,500 ivory items reported as specimens and an additional 780 kg as reported by weight. Between 2003 and 2014, 92 percent of EU exports of pre-convention tusks went to China or Hong Kong.
  • From 2010 to 2012, 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory. In Central Africa, between 2002 and 2013, 65 percent of the forest elephants were killed. According to the Great Elephant Census, poachers killed half of Mozambique’s elephants in five years while Tanzania lost a catastrophic 60 percent of its elephants during the same period.
  • The majority of ivory trafficking is destined for China or Southeast Asia. However, once smuggled ivory leaves Africa, their trafficking routes could go through Europe or the Middle East to reach Asia. Numerous airports, including those in Germany, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates, have seized or intercepted smuggled ivory from Africa to Asia.

Media Contact: Raúl Arce-Contreras, rcontreras@humanesociety.org, +1 240-620-3263

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