Thousands of pieces of ivory found for sale
Wednesday, 15 January 2014
A team from Oxford Brookes and the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC have found more than 3300 pieces of ivory and close to 50 raw ivory elephant tusks openly for sale in Mong La, a town on the Myanmar side of the country’s border with China.
The majority of inhabitants, including
ivory vendors, in Mong La are from China, with the currency of daily use the
Chinese Yuan Renminbi. According to sources, ivory enters the town from China,
mostly already carved.
Twenty-seven shops were found
offering ivory for sale, most of it likely to originate from Africa, where the
carved hippo teeth also on display undoubtedly originated. Several shops were
openly showcasing hundreds of carved pieces of ivory in glass display
“Our observations suggest Mong La may be one of the biggest unregulated ivory
markets in Asia, and it is doubtless one of those where ivory is most openly
displayed,” said Professor Vincent Nijman, from Oxford Brookes
It means Mong La could rank alongside markets
in Bangkok in Thailand and Guangzhou in China, long-known as centres for the
illegal domestic and international ivory trade.
Trade in ivory is largely illegal in Myanmar - there may be some authorized
trade in the tusk tips of legally-owned elephants - and cross-border trade of
ivory is not permitted under guidelines agreed upon by countries that are
signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of
Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
“It is clear that neither Myanmar nor China are effectively enforcing CITES
regulations, as ivory is evidently moving across the border,” said Professor
Volumes of ivory found in the markets of Mong La were higher than at any point
since TRAFFIC first started monitoring wildlife trade in the border town in
“Increasing volumes of ivory in an open cross-border market catering to Chinese
consumers is a sure sign that international agreements are not being enforced
and action to reduce ivory demand is not effective,” said Dr Chris R Shepherd,
Director of TRAFFIC in South-East Asia.