Agenda items 53.1, 53.2, and 53.3: Elephants

African elephant (Loxodonta africana) ivory confiscated from poachers. / ©: WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY
African elephant (Loxodonta africana) ivory confiscated from poachers.
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY
Agenda item 53.1: Trade in elephant species

Document 53.1, prepared by the Secretariat, outlines:

• progress in implementation of the Action Plan for the control of trade in African elephant ivory
• potential ivory trading partners
• implementation of ivory trade controls in Zimbabwe
• illegal trade in ivory.

No specific recommendations are included at this point though the Secretariat will provide an oral update at CoP14 and may make specific recommendations once it has had an opportunity to review the ETIS analysis. The Secretariat also notes that if the Conference decides that the present Action Plan for the control of trade in African elephant ivory should continue to be implemented, the wording will require to be updated and it should thereafter be adopted as a decision of CoP14.

WWF’s comments on this agenda item will focus on the issue of implementation of the Action Plan for the control of trade in African elephant ivory; comments on other issues addressed in the Secretariat’s document will be made at a later date.

WWF recommendation:

WWF strongly urges the participants in the African elephants Range States Dialogue meeting, prior to the CoP, to come together and commit to taking concrete action to implement this Plan. The time has come to put political will behind serious efforts to close down these illegal and unregulated ivory markets - the true driver of elephant poaching.

For WWF's full position, including the rationale and further information, please see page 41 in WWF Positions CITES COP14. Download PDF (3.6 MB | 48 pages)


Agenda item 53.2: Monitoring of illegal trade in ivory and other elephant specimens

This document is not available for consideration at the time of writing. Comments from WWF on this item will be forthcoming at CoP14.


Agenda item 53.3: Monitoring of illegal hunting in elephant range States

This document is not available for consideration at the time of writing. Comments from WWF on this item will be forthcoming at CoP14.

Why is WWF making this recommendation?

Extensive research and the analysis of illegal ivory trade through the CITES Elephant Trade and Information System (ETIS) has illustrated clearly that unregulated and illegal ivory markets at the national level (hereafter “domestic ivory markets”) are the major driver behind the ongoing and escalating illegal international trade in ivory.

In response to this, the 2004 African elephant Range States Dialogue meeting recommended the adoption of an Action Plan for the control of trade in African elephant ivory, and CoP13 adopted it by consensus (Decision 13.26). This plan focuses effort on regulating, enforcing, or closing altogether such markets and undertaking public awareness activities. This Plan has the potential scope to regulate or close all current unregulated and illicit domestic markets in both Africa and Asia.

Progress to implement the Plan has been painfully slow and under-resourced, and would not seem to reflect the political will that was evidenced by the Parties through adoption of the Plan at CoP13. Recent outstanding actions by government authorities in Ethiopia demonstrate how much can be achieved to address these markets when there is committed political will to implement the requirements of Res. Conf. 10.10 (Rev. CoP12) for internal trade in ivory.

WWF recommendations:
In order to stimulate such action in other countries with active markets, and with poaching and enforcement problems, WWF strongly urges the participants in the African elephants Range States Dialogue meeting, prior to the CoP, to come together and commit to taking concrete action to implement this Plan. The time has come to put political will behind serious efforts to close down these illegal and unregulated ivory markets - the true driver of elephant poaching.

WWF further urges

  • the development of a meaningful workplan with clear timeframes to implement the Action Plan, involving Parties with active markets and the most serious problems (as identified by ETIS) both in Africa and Asia
  • the incorporation of supporting activities by the Secretariat into the Costed Programme of Work (Document 7.3)
  • progress reports on the implementation of the Action Plan that are provided to all future meetings of the Standing Committees and the CoP be required to be made publicly available - to facilitate support and technical assistance from donors, where most needed, and to allow verification and groundtruthing by competent non-governmental organizations and others
  • for strong action to be taken by the Standing Committee if any Party fails to demonstrably implement the Action Plan, preferably within an identified and short period of time following the close of CoP14
  • For revisions to be made to Decision 13.26 in line with these recommendations.


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