© Martin Harvey / WWF
WWF and the elephant ivory trade

WWF is committed to conserving elephant populations across Africa and Asia. Along with initiatives to protect their habitats and reduce human/elephant conflict, WWF is at the forefront of global efforts to stop elephant poaching and illegal ivory trade, which threaten the future of elephant populations across Africa.

At this time

  • WWF does not support the resumption of the international commercial trade in elephant ivory.
  • WWF strongly discourages the consumption of elephant ivory products.
  • WWF supports the closure of domestic elephant ivory markets that are driving poaching and illegal trade.

WWF does not support the resumption of the international, commercial elephant ivory trade - now and until a demonstrably effective, enforceable and conservation-based management and compliance system is in place and adhered to by source, transit and consumer countries.

WWF considers that the current, global trade ban alone will not solve the ongoing elephant poaching crisis, since this threat is largely driven by illegal trade, facilitated by weak enforcement, and high levels of demand related to rising affluence in many consumer countries. Hence, WWF believes that, to have positive impact on elephants, the focus of conservation efforts must also be on the rigorous implementation, monitoring and evaluation of strong national plans in key countries to counter poaching and illegal trade of elephant ivory, and to change consumer behaviour.

WWF acknowledges that, under condition of good governance, sustainable use can benefit conservation. WWF recognizes the different approaches to managing elephants utilized across Africa and the potential funds that can be raised from these activities for conservation and communities In this regard, the consumptive use approach adopted by certain African countries through well-managed trophy hunting has proved successful for elephant conservation in some instances. 

WWF's position on ivory trade is based on the realities of current market dynamics: the low levels of traceability; the weak controls that are leading to illegal sales under the cover of legal outlets; the enforcement challenges; and the threat that wildlife crime poses to certain elephant populations at this time. 

WWF supports the closure of domestic markets for elephant ivory worldwide. When markets that drive poaching and illegal trade are closed, it is recognised that pragmatic exceptions can be made in narrow categories of antique products (e.g. cutlery, musical instruments, furniture with ivory inlay, etc.) where a demonstrably effective, enforceable and conservation-based management and compliance system is in place, and which thus would not pose a major risk of illegal trade. 

Further clarification of WWF’s position on the issues of (a) domestic ivory markets; and (b) ivory from species other than elephants; are provided in this statement.