The Ivory and Rhinoceros Enforcement Task Force of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) met in Kenya from 17 to 19 May to discuss urgent actions against crimes targeting elephants and rhinos. Twenty top law enforcement officers representing wildlife authorities, Customs, investigations, national parks, the police and enforcement agencies in 12 countries (China, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nepal, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United Republic of Tanzania, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe) attended the meeting.
The market dynamics of the illegal trade in ivory and rhinoceros, including supply and demand mechanisms leading to a sharp increase in the black market price, are not yet fully understood. The World Bank has offered to provide its expertise in the fields of combating money-laundering and asset recovery, which was highly welcomed.
The Task Force learned of possible new demands for rhino horn, including within the art and antiques trade, which will require further investigation. Elephants are poached for their ivory tusks that are traditionally carved into decorative items that consumers are willing to pay high prices for in emerging economies. This demand appears to have increased in recent years due to a growing affluence among some parts of society in east Asia. The poaching of rhinoceros, on the other hand, has been regarded as primarily due to a demand for its use as a traditional medicinal product and a recently-emerging rumour that it may be an effective treatment for cancer. (This post excerpted from a CITES press release.)