WCC 2016 Res 011 - Progress Report

General information
IUCN Constituencies implementing this Resolution
IUCN Members: 
Wildlife Conservation Society ( WCS ) / United States of America
IUCN Commissions: 
IUCN Species Survival Commission 2017-2020 (SSC)
IUCN Secretariat: 
Other non-IUCN related organisations: 
Indicate which actions have been carried out to implement this Resolution : 
Convene stakeholders/Networking
Education/Communication/Raising awareness
Policy influencing/advocacy
Describe the results/achievements of the actions taken: 
Since the 2016 World Conservation Congress a number of countries have taken steps towards greater legislative and regulatory efforts to close domestic ivory markets.

In December 2018, the Ivory Act 2018 became law in the UK which will see total ban on dealing in items containing elephant ivory, regardless of their age, within the UK, as well as export from or import to the UK. The The Ivory Alliance 2024 was established ahead of the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade will tackle ivory demand and lobby for domestic market closure, and stronger enforcement of bans or other ivory legislation in key demand and transit markets.

Following China's domestic ivory ban in 2017 consumer research commissioned by TRAFFIC showed that respondents’ claims of past purchase have reduced substantially and future intention to buy ivory products dropped by almost half to 26% when compared to 2017 before their ban took effect. Support for the ivory ban also remains very high in 2018 with 9 out of 10 respondents saying they support it. Legal ivory shops visited by TRAFFIC have stopped selling ivory, and the magnitude of illegal ivory trade in most of surveyed cities and online platforms has decreased. However, there are concerns over ivory trafficking hotspots particularly at the border with neighbouring Viet Nam, as well as a rise of activity since 2017 in China’s ivory auction market, which remains the only legitimate post-ban commercial outlet for ivory sales. Further examination of the current exemption allowing antique ivory to be sold at auction revealed potential loopholes for laundering illegal ivory. TRAFFIC also found that some auctions mislabeled auction items in the catalogues in order to evade ivory trade supervision.

The Hong Kong Legislative Council passed a bill in January 2018 to end local ivory trade in Hong Kong, with closure of its ivory markets being implemented in phases. With immediate effect, the amended law will ban the trade in elephant trophies, while an end to ivory imports and exports followed three months after the law comes into effect. Commercial trade of ivory within the territory, however, can continue until the end of 2021, after which all ivory trading will cease, with the exception of the antiques trade in ivory carved before the year 1925. This leaves a gap of four years between the closure of ivory markets in Hong Kong and mainland China, with the latter having shut down all of its registered ivory outlets at the end of 2017.

TRAFFIC’s reassessment of Japan’s ivory market revealed weaknesses in regulation of Japan’s domestic ivory market, which allows persistent illegal export of ivory, particularly to China. Surveys found the availability of ivory in most retail outlets was largely unchanged from an earlier TRAFFIC assessment in 2017, the exception being indoor antique fairs, where ivory products for sale had declined by almost half in 2018, possibly as a result of stricter government oversight.
What challenges/obstacles have been encountered in the implementation of this Resolution and how were they overcome : 
This Resolution faces a number of challenges, the largest being that administrative closure of domestic ivory markets will not have the desired impact on wild elephants unless implementation and enforcement actions (plus other conservation interventions) are rigorously and effectively implemented. Poor regulation of domestic ivory markets also poses a challenge.
Briefly describe what future actions are needed for the implementation of this Resolution: 
1. Implementation of CITES to include adequate ivory stockpile inventories, management and reporting, and ensuring that national
legislation is aligned to CITES Res. Conf. 10.10 (Rev.)
2. Control the unintended consequences of domestic ivory bans by preventing any surge in ivory sales either in other countries, or from
on-line outlets and shifting centres of illegal trade
3. Transboundary co-operation is needed, especially between neighbouring countries, to manage for any shifts in processing or
procurement caused by new legislation, or enhanced enforcement in some countries
4. Close regulation and monitoring is essential to prevent any laundering of ivory to the still open markets in Hong Kong, which would seriously undermine efforts in mainland China to implement its ivory trade ban.
5. Difficulty in distinguishing ivory from different elephant (and mammoth) species in cultural markets.
Status of implementation
Status of implementation for this Resolution: 
Initiated: first stages of implementation
Are these actions planned for yet: