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Friday, 4 October, 2002, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Ivory trade 'increasing' despite ban
Zimbabwe ivory auction
Experts want the ban enforced more strictly

Illegal trade in elephant ivory is on the increase, research released in the Swiss city of Geneva has revealed.

A series of reports shows that, despite a virtual ban on trade in ivory since 1989, the market in several countries - in particular China - is actually growing.

The research has come from the Elephant Trade Information System - a body set up by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1997 to monitor the illegal trade in ivory.

Ivory on sale in Bangkok
Ivory goods are being sold in Thailand
Its first detailed analysis will be a disappointment.

While seizures of illegal ivory decreased in the five years to 1994, since 1998 they have been going up.

Africa is selling ivory and Asia is buying.

The worst culprits are China, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Thailand.

CITES says the growing wealth of consumers in China makes the country the world's major force in the demand for ivory.

The main problem is poor local enforcement of the ban and CITES now wants governments to take strict measures to end the illegal trade within their own borders.

One encouraging point CITES found is that China may now be starting to take action.

Products seized

But much remains to be done.

The Elephant Trade Information System has evidence implicating 150 countries in the illegal ivory trade and a list of almost 8,000 seizures of illegal elephant products since the 1989 ban.

But it is impossible to tell just how many elephants have been killed during that time.

Large quantities of ivory were hidden after the 1989 ban and now it is coming back on to the growing market.

See also:

13 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
04 Apr 00 | Africa
17 Apr 00 | In Depth
14 May 02 | Science/Nature
25 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
09 Feb 99 | Science/Nature
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