New Report Highlights New Zealand's Role in Ivory Trade

The current elephant poaching crisis is threatening the very future of the species, with the ivory trade playing a pivotal role. As has been widely recognised, this is an international issue for which every nation must take responsibility.

Not traditionally seen as a big player in the global ivory trade, a recent report ‘A Report on the New Zealand Trade in Ivory’ puts New Zealand above the United States (one of the world’s largest consumer markets) on ivory carving imports per capita between 2009 and 2012. In fact, according to the report, a massive 78% of all ivory items imported into New Zealand for trade purposes since the 1989 international ivory ban occurred over just a three year period, between 2010 and 2012.

Since 1980 a total of 791 ivory items have been confiscated by New Zealand law enforcement authorities, including 80 tusks and 564 carvings, most of which were confiscated on their way into the country. However, the first conviction for illegally trading in ivory in New Zealand did not take place until 2013.

The report also reflects on the spike in price of auctioned ivory and although much of this trade is in pre-ban ivory which can be legally traded, items of unknown and wild origin have also been imported and re-exported since 2007. The authors question how the necessary CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) paperwork was obtained for the import or re-export of these items.

Two of the main recommendations of the report are stockpile destruction and a complete ban on domestic trade in ivory, noting that the New Zealand trade in ivory is at odds with international efforts to reduce demand for ivory. Born Free strongly supports these recommendations and commends the authors on their work. Here’s why ivory needs to be put out of circulation.

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