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Close all domestic and international ivory markets

Politicians must heed overwhelming public demand to close all domestic and international ivory markets

As world leaders convene in Africa to decide the fate of endangered species, the vast majority of people across North America, Europe and Australia, unaware of legal ivory trade in their countries, call on politicians to finally close all ivory markets.

The #JoinTheHerd campaign empowers citizens worldwide to mobilise against the slaughter of elephants and force an end to the ivory trade once and for all.

  • 82 out of 100 people surveyed disagree with the buying and selling of ivory.
  • In total 78 per cent incorrectly believe it is illegal to buy and sell ivory in their country.
  • When told it is not illegal, 85 per cent want it banned in their country and 80 per cent want their government to support the closure of all domestic ivory markets internationally.
  • This is despite the majority significantly underestimating or not knowing the number of African elephants killed for their tusks – 33,000 annually.
  • #JoinTheHerd public petition will run up to and be presented at CITES on 24th September.
  • The one thing people across the world agree on is that the ivory trade needs to be stopped once and for all.

This is the message a group of leading organisations fighting to save the African elephant from extinction will deliver to world leaders gathering at CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) in Johannesburg, South Africa on September 24th where they will vote on the closure of all domestic ivory markets around the world.

WildAid, Stop Ivory, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), ZSL (Zoological Society of London), Tusk and Global March for Elephants and Rhinos are asking people to #JoinTheHerd at and show how they would vote if they had a say. The result will be presented to the politicians at CITES in a bid to ensure they vote in favour of closing all ivory markets. Anything less is undemocratic.

To highlight the strength of public opinion, the group has commissioned a TNS study of more than 1,000 people (10,230 total) in each of USA, Canada, Australia, UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden into awareness and perception of the ivory trade. Released today, the nationally representative survey reveals the shocking misconception by the vast majority of respondents (78 per cent) that it is already illegal to buy and sell ivory in their country.

The reality is that while international trade in ivory has been banned since 1989, many domestic markets remain open, including most of Europe. This is despite an average 82 per cent of people surveyed, regardless of gender, age, social class or educational attainment, disagreeing with the buying and selling of ivory around the world. When told it is in fact legal in their own country, 72-93 per cent of respondents say they wanted it banned, with 67-88 per cent in favour of their government also supporting the closure of all domestic ivory markets. The study uncovers similar patterns in every country, proving the overwhelming global public support for an end to the ivory trade. (See notes for all country data).

“The results of our study are clear; people want to stop the ivory trade. Any government or democratic body that doesn’t support this is failing in their duty to represent the wishes of the people they serve. Why wouldn’t you act to ban something that the populace already think is banned and believe should be banned, not just in our countries but worldwide?” said Aisling Ryan, global strategist at Grey London for the #JoinTheHerd campaign.

The findings have been released by the group as they unite for the latest push in the battle to end the ivory trade through #JoinTheHerd. With over three million supporters already, #JoinTheHerd is calling on people to put aside their differences and exert further pressure on world leaders. It brings together the public, NGOs, charities, activists, celebrities and politicians behind one common objective: to ensure that countries close their own domestic ivory markets and vote in support of CoP17 Resolution 57.2 which recommends all domestic Ivory markets be closed.

Professor Jonathan Baillie, Director of Conservation Programmes, ZSL said: “As an international conservation charity, ZSL is firmly committed to helping secure a UK Government ban on the domestic ivory trade. Maintaining domestic ivory markets helps fuel the illegal killing of thousands of elephants. The two largest markets for ivory, China and the US, have already announced a near total ban of trade in ivory. If the UK does not announce a ban, it could become one of the largest ivory markets in the world. This would be both embarrassing and irresponsible.”

Only 425,000 African elephants remain in the wild and every year about 33,000 are slaughtered for their Ivory; one every 15 minutes. The survey found that people support a ban in spite of a striking lack of awareness of the scale of the problem, with the large majority either significantly underestimating or not knowing the number being killed. At the current rate of slaughter, the African elephant could be extinct within 10 years.

While the IUCN and the European Parliament voted last week to support a global ban, experts fear leaders will still vote against the resolution at CITES. “Yet again, ivory trade supporters are trotting out the same tired arguments that have never resulted in a sustainable market”, said Andrew Harmon, WildAid Director of Communications for WildAid/Director of #JoinTheHerd. “The truth is simple – ‘legal’ ivory only provides a cover for smuggling, corruption and the horrific slaughter of elephants. The upcoming CITES Conference of Parties is a critical moment for the world to finally accept fact over fiction.”

“These results show a clear way forward for world leaders and now is the time for governments to act decisively. Closing domestic markets for ivory has overwhelming global public support. We can not afford to be complacent for one moment if we are to give elephant populations a chance to survive and we can not be the generation to stand by and allow their demise and potential extinction happen during our lifetimes. That would indeed be a crime.” Said Charlie Mayhew MBE, Chief Executive of Tusk Trust

John Stephenson the CEO of Stop Ivory added: “The Elephant Protection Initiative recognises that saving the African elephant depends on consumer countries closing their domestic Ivory markets. This is a view held by almost all African elephant range states and the two largest consumer nations: the US and China. Now is the time for all parties to come together in support of the resolution to close these markets forever.”

Mary Rice, Executive Director of EIA, concluded: “The elephant no longer has the numbers or the time for us to prevaricate about theoretical trade experiments. CITES CoP17 offers a critical opportunity for governments everywhere to do the right thing. The recent IUCN resolution is as clear a signal as the CITES Parties could hope to have: close down all domestic ivory markets, everywhere.”

Rosemary Alles from Global March for Elephants and Rhinos appealed to everyone to get involved: “GMFER is joining the herd to demand our governments take action to stop the poaching of elephants and rhinos and end the trade in ivory and rhino horn. Vote online at at and then #MarchAgainstExtinction with us in over 140 cities worldwide”



Veronique Rhys-Evans –

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