New research funded by Save the Elephants has revealed that the price of ivory in China, the world’s biggest market, has almost tripled over the last four years.
In May 2014 long-time ivory researchers Esmond Martin & Lucy Vigne conducted a month-long survey of hundreds of Chinese retail outlets and factories in Beijing and Shanghai and contrasted their findings with prices they had established in Fuzhou four years previously.
“The average price paid by craftsmen or factory owners, for good quality, privately-owned 1-4kg elephant tusks in Beijing in early 2014 was $2,100 per kilogram. The average price for similar tusks in 2010 was $750 per kg,” said Dr Martin.
The surge in the price of ivory is driving a wave of killing of elephants across Africa that shows little sign of abating. With the ivory price in Africa a tenth of that reached in China, substantial profits are being generated for organised crime that fuels insecurity, corruption, and deprives local communities of valuable income. Save the Elephants estimates that an average of 33,000 elephants were lost to poachers every year between 2010 and 2012.
“Without concerted international action to reduce the demand for ivory measures to reduce the killing of elephants for ivory will fail,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants. “Although half a world away, China holds the key to the future of the African Elephant.”
A full report on the study, supported by the Elephant Crisis Fund (established by Save the Elephants and the Wildlife Conservation Network) and The Aspinall Foundation, is in production.
In June 2014 Dr Martin & Ms. Vigne revealed that Angola now has Africa’s second largest illegal retail ivory market. While Lagos in Nigeria has more ivory items on sale, stallholders are secretive and aware of regulations. By contrast the salesmen in Luanda, Angola, appeared unconcerned about getting caught selling illegal ivory (click here for a report by the Associated Press).
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About Save the Elephants
Save the Elephants (STE) works to secure a future for elephants in a rapidly changing world. To battle the current surge in ivory poaching, the STE/WCN Elephant Crisis Fund is identifying and supporting the most effective global partners to stop poaching, thwart traffickers and end demand for ivory. STE supports elephant science, that provides cutting-edge scientific insights into elephant behavior, intelligence, and long-distance movement and applies them to the long-term challenges of elephant conservation.