Saturday August 12 is World Elephant Day, and in the lead-up, a massive ivory crush was performed in New York.
On August 3, New York State’s Dept of Environmental Conservation, the Wildlife Conservation Society and Tiffany and Co., publicly destroyed nearly two tons of illegal ivory in Central Park. The ivory was seized from individuals and companies illegally selling it in New York and is estimated to be worth $8 million and over 100 elephant lives.
Action is on-going around the world to curb the ivory trade. Following China’s announcement late last year of a domestic ivory trade ban by the end of 2017, environmental organizations TRAFFIC and WWF have conducted surveys and found that the number of ivory items offered for sale, in both legal and illegal ivory markets in China, has declined alongside falling ivory prices.
However, the significant number of ivory products being offered and traded online in Japan remains a concern to TRAFFIC. The organization's surveys of Japan’s online domestic ivory markets in 2017 found high volumes of sales across online shopping malls, auction sites and emerging customer to customer websites, with thousands of advertisements posted every week. Japan’s current legal framework regulates ivory trade by commercial businesses but not by individuals except when whole tusks are concerned.
Earlier in August, customs officers in Kwai Chung, Hong Kong, reported their seizure of approximately 7.2 tons of ivory in a shipping container inbound from Malaysia. Hong Kong remains a major hub for illegal wildlife trade and ranks 5th globally in ivory contraband with 33,000 kilograms (73,000 pounds) seized between 2000 and 2013.
Every year, on average, over 20,000 elephants are killed for their tusks in Africa alone.
At the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting held last year in South Africa, Resolution 10.10 on Trade in Elephant Specimens was revised to include a clear recommendation that “all Parties and non-Parties in whose jurisdiction there is a legal domestic market for ivory that is contributing to poaching or illegal trade, take all necessary legislative, regulatory and enforcement measures to close their domestic markets for commercial trade in raw and worked ivory as a matter of urgency.”