Ivory trade is the main culprit responsible for the catastrophic levels of elephant poaching. For many years, our ground-breaking investigations have consistently revealed the extent of the problem, identifying the transnational criminal groups behind the trafficking of illegal ivory and the corruption they help drive, and have played a major role on shutting down ivory trade. We also continue to work for the closure of all domestic and international ivory markets.

The problem

The African savannah elephant in East and Southern Africa and African forest elephant in West and Central Africa are in decline across much of their range, primarily due to poaching to feed the ivory trade. Asian elephants are also in serious decline.

Organised transnational criminal syndicates are involved in the ivory trade, fuelling corruption and conflict, and undermining the rule of law. Combined with habitat loss and human-elephant conflict over diminishing resources, the ivory trade threatens the survival of these keystone species whose decline will in turn have a serious impact on the maintenance of healthy ecosystems and economies.

The difference we’ve made

With more than three decades of experience in investigating ivory trafficking in Africa and Asia, we have played a key role in exposing the criminality, corruption and failure of governments in effectively combatting the trade. Our knowledge of the reality on the ground where we work closely with local partners, combined with expertise in advocating a strong multi-sectoral response to address wildlife crime has enabled us to deliver significant blows to the ivory trade.

  • Hard-hitting repeated exposés of illegal ivory trade in China (including the laundering of illegal ivory under the Government’s permit system) and the role of Chinese-led criminal syndicates in ivory trafficking put a spotlight on China as the world’s largest destination for illegal ivory. In 2016, the Government of China announced it would close its domestic legal ivory market and the last of its legal ivory stores, including those documented by us as selling illegal ivory. All had been shut down by December 2017.
  • Since 2002, our seasoned team of investigators have infiltrated organised criminal networks in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia which have been responsible for large-scale destruction of elephant populations across Africa. We commend the government agencies in Africa and Asia which have taken action on the basis of our investigation findings.
  • In 1989, we played a pivotal role in securing the global ivory trade ban and in 2010 we provided information that was critical in stopping further international ivory sales.
  • We have produced and developed a comprehensive tool (in eight languages) for enforcement agencies to use to assist them in combatting the international illegal ivory trade.

Moving forward

Our aim is to reduce the threat posed by the ivory trade to elephant populations. We continue to work towards the closure of domestic and international ivory markets and to advocate for a more effective multi-sectoral response in disrupting the transnational criminal networks and the corruption that facilitate the illegal ivory trade.

Wherever possible, we work with partners at all levels to complement their efforts and provide information, technical capacity and expertise as appropriate.

How you can help

Your gift today will help us continue our vital investigative and campaigning work.

If you live in a country where ivory can be sold legally, write to your government asking it to stop putting a price tag on dead elephants and to close its domestic ivory market.