EIA calls on CITES to tackle the Nigeria-Vietnam trafficking corridor for ivory and pangolin scales

The 74th meeting of the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Standing Committee begins today (7 March) and EIA has called on it to tackle the Nigeria-Vietnam wildlife trafficking corridor.

The new briefing Joint Responsibilities spells out how both countries have joint and major roles in the trafficking of ivory and pangolin scales.

In the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) report to the 18th meeting of CITES Conference of Parties (CoP18) and the 2020 UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Wildlife Crime report, Nigeria and Vietnam were identified as the largest export hub and import hub of ivory and pangolin scales, respectively.

Confiscated pangolin scales stored in a Government warehouse in Nigeria (c) Charles Emogor

Despite some progress by both countries to tackle wildlife crime, measures have been disproportionate in comparison to their ongoing pivotal roles in illegal trade in ivory and pangolin scales.

Since 2021, approximately 17 tonnes of ivory and pangolin scales have been seized either leaving Nigeria bound for Vietnam or in Vietnam arriving from Nigeria, clearly demonstrating the ongoing illicit trade corridor.

However, there has been an absence of international cooperation between law enforcement agencies between these two when it comes to prosecuting large-scale seizures exported from Nigeria destined for Vietnam and disrupting the wildlife crime networks responsible for these shipments.

Furthermore, even though corruption plays a critical role in facilitating wildlife trafficking and there has been concern on both Nigeria and Vietnam’s Corruption Perception Index, anti-corruption measures are not included in their National Ivory Action Plans (NIAP), particularly to tackle corruption at key ports notorious for wildlife trafficking routes from Nigeria to Vietnam.

Since 2014, both Nigeria and Vietnam have failed to submit regular annual reports to the CITES Secretariat on their ivory stockpiles due to the lack of adequate systems for the inventory and management of ivory and other contraband wildlife.

There is an urgent need for these Parties to conduct an inventory of ivory stockpiles to prevent ivory and other wildlife specimens from leaking into the illegal market and, consequently, fuelling elephant poaching.

Given the parallel responsibilities and shortcomings of Nigeria and Vietnam, as exporter and importer countries of illegal and endangered wildlife products, EIA calls on SC74 to request Nigeria and Vietnam to implement their commitments under CITES effectively and cohesively.

• Catch up on key issues coming up at the Standing Committee this week.