Illegal trade seizures: Elephant ivory globally

Our ivory seizure map was updated for World Elephant Day 2017, detailing 150 large scale ivory seizures of 500kg or more between 2000 and July 2017.

Included in the updated map are conviction outcomes and pending prosecutions for 51 of the identified seizures. Additionally, we have provided the details of 15 known thefts from government stockpiles around the world.  

The release of the conviction outcomes highlights the woefully low conviction rate for ivory crimes, with only 19.3 per cent of these seizures known to have resulted in a conviction. 

Of the total number of seizures, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Kenya returned the highest number, with 31, 15 and 14 seizures respectively.  

It is estimated that these large scale ivory seizures collectively account for the deaths of approximately 37,438 elephants.  

Of particular concern, however, is that only 22.8 per cent (8,568) of known large-scale seizures have resulted in satisfactory legal outcomes. Such low conviction rates provide little deterrent for those involved in the illicit trade of ivory.  

The arrest and conviction of those criminals responsible is fundamental to bringing about long-term and meaningful change to effectively combat elephant poaching. 

Methodology of collecting data 

The map focuses only on publicly reported large-scale ivory seizures, their related convictions and thefts from government-held stockpiles. This information has been verified where possible. Conviction outcomes are based within the country of seizure, unless otherwise stated. It is therefore not an exhaustive data set and represents only a fraction of the actual level of trade between 2000 and July 2017. A list of the large-scale ivory seizures represented in the map, along with additional information, is available including publicly reported Government stockpile thefts and convictions and prosecutions. 


Last updated in December 2017

Key takeouts   

  • These large scale ivory seizures collectively account for the deaths of approximately 37,438 elephants. 
  • The greatest numbers of seizures from 2000-17 were in Vietnam (31), Hong Kong (15) and Kenya (14).  
  • Just 19.3 per cent of the seizures during this period are known to have resulted in a conviction. 
  • Overall, only 22.8 per cent (8,568) of known large-scale seizures have resulted in satisfactory legal outcomes. 

Contact us

If you wish to utilise our illegal trade seizure maps and need access to the raw data or have information you wish to submit, please contact us.