Introduction

A 61 year old Napier man has been charged with illegally importing elephant ivory. The charges have been filed in the Napier District Court by the Department of Conservation.

Date:  29 May 2014

Ivory piece seized in investigation.
Ivory piece seized in investigation

A 61 year old Napier man has been charged with illegally importing elephant ivory. The charges have been filed in the Napier District Court by the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Thirty two charges of trading in an endangered species without an appropriate permit have been filed against the man who is scheduled to appear in the Napier District Court next month.

The charges relate to 31 pieces of elephant ivory imported without an appropriate permit.

Forensic tests have confirmed the pieces have all been carved from elephant tusks.

African and Asian elephants are classified as endangered species. A ban on trading ivory was imposed in 1989 by 175 countries that are parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). New Zealand became a party to CITES in 1989.

Importing, exporting or re-exporting any part of a protected species, without the appropriate permits is an offence in New Zealand under the Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989. The maximum penalty for importing elephant ivory without a permit is five years imprisonment and or a fine of up to $100,000

This legislation is administered by DOC. DOC investigators work closely with staff from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the New Zealand Customs Service to enforce the legislation.

"African and Asian elephants are at high risk of extinction because poachers continue to kill them for their tusks despite a global ban on trading in ivory", says DOC Senior Investigator Dylan Swain.

"There has been a surge in demand for ivory in Asia and this is believed to be fuelling the illegal trade in elephant tusks," says Dylan Swain.

Background information

  • Both African and Asian elephants are classified as threatened species at high risk of extinction by the ICUN - International Union for Conservation of Nature - the world's oldest and largest environmental network.
  • CITES banned the international trade in ivory in 1989. It's estimated 700,000 African elephants were killed for their ivory between 1979 and 1989 before the ban was implemented.
  • The Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants Programme (MIKE) reports a steady rise in illegal killing of elephants since 2005, fuelled by a rising demand for ivory in Asia.The MIKE programme estimates that 17,000 elephants were killed in 2011 at 44 sites monitored by the programme.
  • It's estimated there are around 600,000 African elephants and between 40,000 and 50,000 Asian elephants.

Related link

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES)

 

Contact

Nick Hirst, Media Advisor
+64 9 307 4866 or + 64 27 704 7773

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