Conserving elephants depend on a total ban of ivory trade globally

Abstract

Despite the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) 1989 ban on trading ivory internationally, poaching for ivory has intensified in both Africa and Asia. Populations of African elephant (Loxodonta spp.) and Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) have declined drastically. In response to the rapid decline, the USA and some other CITES countries have banned commercial ivory trading in ivory. The country with the highest ivory consumption, the People’s Republic of China, recently shut down its legal ivory trade at the end of 2017. Nepal has turned the tide of elephant poaching, with no loss of elephants in the last 4 years. This remarkable success has been achieved by imposing a total ban on trade in ivory, supported by strict national legislation that includes significant fines and incarceration for poachers, traders and officials. Elsewhere, elephant poaching continues to increase despite the numerous disincentives already in place. Thus, we propose a global ban on trade in ivory as the only realistic solution to the current unsustainable rate of loss of elephants. The ban should be extended to trade in all products from endangered wildlife.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to dedicate this paper to Wayne Lotter and all the other men and women who have given their lives to serve and protect elephants and other wildlife around the world. We would like to thank to KNCF, Japan for their financial support to work in elephant in Nepal.

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Correspondence to Achyut Aryal.

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This article belongs to the Topical Collection: Biodiversity exploitation and use.

Communicated by David Hawksworth.

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Aryal, A., Morley, C.G. & McLean, I.G. Conserving elephants depend on a total ban of ivory trade globally. Biodivers Conserv 27, 2767–2775 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-018-1534-x

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Keywords

  • African elephant
  • Asian elephant
  • Poaching
  • Conservation
  • Ivory
  • Illegal trade