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Japan’s Illegal Ivory Trade and Fraudulent Registration of Ivory Tusks

Though frequently highlighted as a model of domestic ivory control, Japan’s system is plagued by loopholes and undercut by weak legislation to such an extent that no meaningful control exists at even the most basic level. The volume of ivory being traded is on the rise, illegal activity is rampant, and abuse of the system is pervasive. The international trade in elephant ivory is governed by the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). In 1989, in response to the first global elephant poaching crisis of the 1970s and 80s, the international trade in ivory was banned.

During the summer of 2015, investigators undertook an undercover survey of ivory traders in Japan in order to gain a better understanding of the extent to which loopholes in the whole tusk registration system were being abused. Expecting to find perhaps a few bad actors, the investigators instead discovered that the majority (80 percent) of ivory traders they spoke with were willing to engage in illegal tusk registration activity, ranging from purchasing an unregistered ivory tusk of unknown origin, to registering ivory tusks through the use of false information.

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Recent Blog Posts

Room for Improvement: Using DNA Analysis to Address Rhino Horn Trafficking
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Law enforcement officials from around the world have seized illegal supplies of rhino horn at least once a week on average for the past 10 years. The type of seizure ranges widely. It could be a pair of fresh horns confiscated from poachers who just gunned down a rhino inside a national park. Or possibly dozens of horns were discovered cleverly hidden in an air cargo shipment. Sometime it’s just a few grams of powdered horn found in a traveler’s luggage. Maybe a mix of raw and carved horns was seized after a police raid on a trafficker’s home.
Still Waiting for Action: Tokyo's Ivory Trade Assessment
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The reality of the scope and impact of COVID-19 hit home for much of the world when the Tokyo 2020 Games were postponed. A year later and looking far different than ever expected or hoped, the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games finally arrived. As the host of the 2020 Games, Tokyo has come under increased scrutiny for its legal market for elephant ivory. Even as the Games were underway, the influential capital city faced mounting international pressure to close its legal ivory market for good. For World Elephant Day 2021, in between the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, we take a look at where Tokyo stands in doing its part to protect the world's elephants from the threats of ivory trade and poaching. 

Recent Reports

Orangutans in Crisis
10/29/2021
Orangutans are in crisis. Asia’s only species of great ape are declining rapidly due to habitat loss, illegal killing, and wildfires.
Orang Utan Dalam Krisis
10/29/2021
Washington DC – Presiden Indonesia harus bertindak sekarang untuk mencegah penurunan permanen populasi satu-satunya kera besar di Asia, demikian peringatan yang diberikan dalam laporan terbaru dari Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) yang berbasis di Washington DC.

Recent Press Releases

Indonesia President Urged to Take Immediate Action to Protect Orangutans
10/29/2021
Indonesia’s president must act now to prevent the irreversible decline of Asia’s only great ape, warns a new report by the Washington, DC-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). EIA’s report reveals that Indonesia’s orangutan population is on a steady march to extinction due to a combination of habitat loss, illegal killings, and wildfires. In just four years, from 2016-2019, more than 1.825 million acres of intact orangutan forest was deforested according to EIA’s analysis. EIA’s findings are alarming in light of a 2018 study that found the island of Borneo alone lost an estimated 148,500 orangutans between 1999 to 2015.
Presiden Indonesia Didesak agar Segera Mengambil Tindakan untuk Melindungi Semua Orang Utan
10/29/2021
Presiden Indonesia harus bertindak sekarang untuk mencegah penurunan permanen populasi satu-satunya kera besar di Asia, demikian peringatan yang diberikan dalam laporan terbaru dari Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) yang berbasis di Washington DC.
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