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Interview: Monitoring Grim Rise
In the World’s Illegal Ivory Trade

Last year was the worst year for ivory seizures since an international ivory ban went into effect in 1989. During 2011, authorities seized more than 23 tons of ivory, which represented about 2,500 individual
Tom Milliken
Tom Milliken
elephants killed. At the forefront of efforts to track this grim data is Tom Milliken, the elephant expert for TRAFFIC, the group that monitors the international trade in wildlife under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Milliken attributes the spike in ivory seizures to a seemingly insatiable demand for ivory in Asia and the increasingly sophisticated network of criminal gangs that are feeding the market. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talked about the factors leading to the continued slaughter of Africa’s elephants and about the lack of strong law enforcement against traffickers. “The fact that nobody is ever arrested, and there are no prison sentences,” he said of cases where ivory is seized, “just sends them right back into the bush to accumulate more ivory faster because they want to make up for what they just lost.”
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