Auction of Ivory in China Spurring Illegal Market, Report Says

A new report says that the illegal trade in ivory has risen sharply in China in recent years, with nearly 90 percent of the ivory purchased at “legal” auctions obtained from illegal sources. According to the report, published by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a decision by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to allow legal auctions of ivory stockpiles in Asia has not only failed to stem the poaching of elephants but stimulated an illegal ivory market. While the international trade in ivory was banned in 1989, closely regulated auctions were approved on the premise that they would undercut the illegal market. According to the EIA, these approved auctions have instead encouraged the illegal market and the continuing slaughter of elephants, particularly in central and western Africa. The report says the Chinese government has not only failed to eradicate the black market, but has profited from it. Since January 2011, more than 30 tons of ivory have been seized, representing more than 3,000 dead elephants.