Illegal ivory for sale…who are you going to call?

Despite what many Australians might believe, elephant ivory and rhino horn is sold in Australia.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) recently released their “Under the Hammer” report, exposing how much ivory and rhino horn is being sold through auction rooms.

The report identified that only 2.7 per cent of items inspected at Australian auction rooms had ‘provenance’ documentation which provides the most useful information to determine the origin and legality of an item.

Items for sale in Chapel Street, Melbourne.

At least three rhinos are brutally slaughtered daily and one elephant is killed every 15 minutes. Last month the South African government released rhino poaching statistics for 2016, reporting 1,054 rhinos has been killed.

A privately funded Great Elephant Census last year reported African elephant populations have declined by 30 per cent in the last seven years.

The Chinese government recently announced it will close its ivory market by the end of this year.

So where does Australia stand?

In September last year the Australian government was asked to enact a total ban on the domestic trade of elephant ivory and rhino horn in a communiqué that was hand delivered to Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg.

Signed by over 50 conservation organisations from around the world, the ban would be a move to ensure Australia commits to playing its role in saving elephants and rhinos from extinction in the wild in the near future.

The communique was presented by Australian NGO founders Donalea Patman (For the Love of Wildlife) and Dr Lynn Johnson (Breaking The Brand) together with Fiona Gordon of New Zealand based environmental firm Gordon Consulting and Rebecca Keeble of IFAW.

Ms Patman has been disappointed with the response from Minister Frydenberg and the apparent confusion about who is responsible for dealing with illegal ivory or rhino horn.

“The response was that Australia is unlikely to be driving the elephant poaching or international illegal trade,” Ms Patman said.

“On top of that, ivory was found for sale in Western Australia in December last year which didn’t have the required documentation (shocking to see that ivory appears in their catalogue again in February).

“It was first reported to the Australian Federal Police who then referred it to state police, who then passed it to border control,” she said.

“There is clearly confusion about who is responsible and a lack of political will to demonstrate leadership on this issue,” she said.

Items for auction in Mt Lawley in December 2016.

The threat of extinction of these iconic species remains high. In November last year Vietnam hosted the third International Wildlife Trade Conference in Hanoi.

The Duke of Cambridge and President of United for Wildlife, Prince William attended the conference and delivered a speech on tackling illegal wildlife trade. In his speech he stated “A betting man would still bet on extinction”.