Angola hit with trade sanctions over failure to tackle elephant poaching and ivory trafficking

Angola has been formally sanctioned for failing to make progress in tackling the illegal trade in elephant ivory since 2020.

Effective as of 10 January 2024, the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has recommended that all commercial trade in CITES-listed species with Angola be suspended until further notice.

Angola has been in the National Ivory Action Plan (NIAP) process under CITES since 2014. However, at the most recent meeting of the Standing Committee in November 2023 (SC77), governments, the CITES Secretariat and civil society organisations noted with concern that the central African country was making inadequate progress to implement the action plan.

Angola’s NIAP non-compliance issues were discussed at the CITES SC77 meeting which was held in Geneva in November 2023 (c) CITES


NIAPs aim to strengthen national responses to poaching and trafficking through a host of legislative, policy and conservation activities. Slow or inadequate implementation of NIAP activities is therefore a cause for serious concern as it may hinder the fight against poaching and trafficking.

Several activities in Angola’s NIAP that are central to building national resilience to poaching and trafficking have stagnated, including actions relating to intelligence and investigatory services and the strengthening of enforcement.

Although Angola was directed to report back to the CITES Secretariat with updates on these vital themes within 60 days of the end of the SC77, the report it submitted was again deemed inadequate and trade sanctions have now been applied in an attempt to compel Angola’s NIAP implementation and to encourage compliance with the Convention.

Angola is home to a population of approximately 6,000 elephants, of which a large proportion are transboundary. Worryingly, of all the Kavango Zambezi countries, Angola recorded the third-highest carcass ratio of elephants in 2022, indicating high mortality and a possible negative population trend.

A high ratio of dead elephants found in Angola in 2022


In addition, the country has been exploited by transnational organised networks as an export and transit country for ivory and rhino horn trafficking from Africa to Asia.

EIA’s database indicates that Angola has been implicated in the confiscation of at least 11 tonnes of ivory since 2016, yet only 23 per cent of seizures were made in the country, underlining that large amounts of illegal ivory have left Angola undetected and have been seized abroad.

In early 2023, Vietnamese officials seized more than seven tonnes of ivory smuggled from Angola, which had transited in Singapore. However, there has been no information regarding international law enforcement cooperation between Vietnam and Angola to investigate and hold individuals and entities involved accountable for their offences.

Large amounts of illegal ivory left Angola undetected and have been seized abroad since 2016 (c) Vietnam Customs


Angola is not the only country facing challenges with compliance in the NIAP process. A total of 13 countries are in the process and non-compliance is reaching unprecedented levels – for example, eight out of 13 NIAP countries failed to submit the required progress reports to the SC77 meeting.

EIA believes the NIAP process is central to the conservation of elephants and the implementation of CITES and therefore supports the trade sanctions announcement, while encouraging Angola and CITES stakeholders to uphold the NIAP process.