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Elephants and Ivory CITES CoP18 Report – Committee II


CITES continues to apply pressure to countries with open domestic ivory markets and strengthens compliance measures for countries with ivory stockpiles.

1. On closure of domestic ivory markets

Parties confirmed their commitment to the closure of domestic ivory markets, agreeing by consensus to focus scrutiny on remaining open markets such as Japan and the EU.  Countries which have not closed their domestic ivory markets will be requested to report on the measures THEY are taking to ensure that their domestic ivory markets are not contributing to poaching or illegal trade.

The language agreed by consensus is as follows:

Requests parties that have not closed their domestic markets for commercial trade in raw and worked ivory to report to the Secretariat for consideration by the Standing Committee at its 73rd and 74th meeting on what measures they are taking to ensure that their domestic ivory markets are not contributing to poaching or illegal trade.

2. On management of ivory stockpiles

A second elephant document submitted by members of the African Elephant Coalition pertains to the management, including the disposal, of ivory stockpiles. Document 69.4, with amendments, also passed by consensus.  It strengthens the compliance measures for how countries report on their ivory stockpiles with a set of draft decisions that:

1.  URGES Parties to maintain and report annually on ivory stockpiles in their territory, including on stolen and/or missing ivory;

2.  CITES WILL IDENTIFY those Parties that have not provided information on their government-held and significant privately held stockpiles of ivory or where stockpiles are not well secured; and 

3.  CITES WILL DETERMINE whether any further actions are necessary in the case of Parties who fail to provide annual inventories of stockpiles


Three controversial proposals to amend the Appendices for the African Elephant are on today’s agenda.

1.  PROPOSAL 10: Transfer the population of Loxodonta africana of Zambia from Appendix I to Appendix II.   LINKS: Proposal 10.  Analysis of Proposal 10.


SUMMARY: Transfer the population of Loxodonta africana of Zambia from Appendix I to Appendix II subject to:

1.  Trade in registered raw ivory (tusks and pieces) for commercial purposes only to CITES approved trading partners who will not re-export;

2.  Trade in hunting trophies for noncommercial purposes;

3.  Trade in hides and leather goods;

4.  All other specimens shall be deemed to be specimens of species in Appendix I and the trade in them shall be regulated accordingly.


1.  Would allow Zambia to export ivory. Any down-listing sends a message that ivory trade could reopen, fueling trafficking and threatening elephants across Africa and Asia.

2.  Population in Zambia experienced a marked decline from 200,000 in 1972 to 17-26,000 in 2015 and has not recovered. It still meets the biological and precautionary criteria for listing in App I. Proposal fails to mention extensive poaching in several areas. The CoP18 MIKE report notes a high poaching level in South Luangwa in 2018.

3.  Governance is a serious problem. ETIS identifies Zambia as a concern due to large-scale ivory movements.

2.  PROPOSAL 11:  Amendment to Annotation 2 of Appendix II pertaining to the elephant populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to enable resumption of trade in registered raw ivory.  LINKS: Proposal 11.  Analysis of Proposal 11.

PROPONENTS:  Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe

SUMMARY:  Amendment to Annotation 2 of Appendix II pertaining to the elephant populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to enable resumption of trade in registered raw ivory:

1.  From government owned stocks (excluding seized and of unknown origin);

2.  Only to trading partners verified by the Secretariat;

3.  Proceeds only to be used to fund elephant conservation and community conservation and development programmes.


1. Would allow Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe to export ivory.

2.  Will fuel demand, poaching and trafficking, and impact elephants in all range States. Ivory sales in 2008 led to a devastating escalation of poaching for ivory. On-going efforts to combat poaching and trafficking will be undermined.

3.  Poaching is increasing in Southern Africa, including in Botswana (up 600% from 2014-2018) and South Africa. ETIS identifies problems with illegal ivory trade in all four countries, especially in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

3.  PROPOSAL 12:  Include all populations of Loxodonta africana in Appendix I through transferring populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe from Appendix II to Appendix I.  LINKS:  Proposal 12.  Analysis of Proposal 12.

PROPONENTS:  Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Syrian Arab

Republic, Togo.


1.  The continental population declined by 68% from 1980-2015. Poaching remains high across Africa and is increasing in Southern Africa. Hot spots have moved from East Africa into Southern Africa (notably

Botswana) where over half of Africa’s elephants live.

2.  As a highly migratory, transboundary species, CITES listing criteria should be applied to African elephants as a whole. CITES discourages split-listing due to enforcement problems.

3.  Trading in ivory by some range States runs counter to agreed demand reduction efforts and endangers elephants in ALL range States.

4.  The criteria for up-listing are met, in light of the “marked decline” (over 50% since 1980) and on-going poaching for ivory on a continental scale.


CITES was established in 1973, entered into force in 1975, and accords varying degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants.  Currently 183 countries are Parties to the Convention.  The CITES Standing Committee oversees the work of the Convention during the two- or three-year periods between its Conferences of the Parties (CoPs).

Ivory trade

All populations of African elephants were listed on CITES Appendix I in 1989, effectively banning international ivory trade.  But the protection was weakened in 1997 and 2000 when populations in four countries (Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe) were down-listed to Appendix II (a less endangered status) to allow two sales of ivory stockpiles to Japan and China in 1999 and 2008.  In 1980, the African elephant population was estimated at 1.3 million individuals – in 2015, only 415,428 remained according to the 2016 IUCN African Elephant Status Report estimates, a decline of 68 percent.


Fondation Franz Weber (FFW), based in Bern, Switzerland, has been campaigning for the survival of the African elephant and the complete ban of the trade in ivory for 40 years. FFW has had observer status at CITES since 1989 and has been a partner of the African Elephant Coalition since its creation in 2008.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) based in Guildford, UK, is a highly effective wildlife conservation charity founded in 1984 by wildlife artist and conservationist David Shepherd CBE FRSA (1931-2017) to help save endangered wildlife.  DSWF works to fight wildlife crime, protect endangered species and engage local communities to protect their native wildlife and associated habitats across Asia and Africa.  The Foundation focusses on maximum conservation impact by taking a long-term holistic approach to the issues surrounding the species that they work to protect, fighting for greater legal protection of endangered species, funding international cross-border enforcement programmes and building capacity of key law enforcement networks.  DSWF also supports undercover investigations into wildlife crime and campaigns to bring an end to the trade in the parts of endangered wildlife.

Pro Wildlife (PW), based in Munich, Germany, is committed to protecting wildlife and works to ensure the survival of species in their habitat, as well as the protection of individual animals.  This includes advocacy, strengthening national and international regulations and ensuring their implementation.

The African Elephant Coalition was established in 2008 in Bamako, Mali. It comprises 32 member countries from Africa including 27 African elephant range States united by a common goal: “a viable and healthy elephant population free of threats from international ivory trade.”  The 32 member countries of the African Elephant Coalition are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Gambia, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Togo, and Uganda.  All AEC Members are Parties to CITES except for South Sudan.


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