The Often Overlooked Ivory Trade

Stephen Wiggins Studies Leave a Comment

The often overlooked ivory trade,” TRAFFIC, April 2021

Hippopotamus have been exploited in the past for their ivory – the hippo species (Hippopotamus amphibius) is classed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as vulnerable, with an estimated global population of around 110,000 – 130,000. But threats such as illegal hunting (for meat) and the illicit supply of hippo canine teeth as a source for ivory are among the many threats this species faces:

A 1994 assessment by TRAFFIC, the monitoring agency of international trade for the IUCN, reported that illegal trade in Hippo ivory increased sharply following the international elephant ivory ban in 1989” – IUCN

In a 2017 study, “Missing teeth: Discordances in the trade of hippo ivory between Africa and Hong Kong,” the researchers found that upon interrogation of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) trade database, that almost all the trade in hippo teeth ivory was via Hong Kong. However, the volume of imports declared by Hong Kong was substantially different than the quantity reported by the exporting countries (Uganda and Tanzania), with the source of some 14,000kg of hippo teeth unaccounted for and thereby deemed to stem from illicit activity (Note: 14,000 kg is equivalent to 2,700 hippos, or 2% of the world’s hippo population). Presumably, this excess of imports was sourced from illegal hippo hunting.


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