Ivory markets in Central Africa

Weak governance, corruption and shifting trade dynamics are significant factors seriously undermining the control of ivory trafficking throughout five countries in Central Africa, according to a new TRAFFIC study launched. In the first comprehensive assessment of ivory trade in the region in nearly two decades, investigators from TRAFFIC visited major cities across Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Gabon in 2007, 2009 and 2014/2015. The investigators posed as buyers at known and newly identified ivory markets and workshops throughout the Congo Basin, interviewing everyone that they encountered connected to the ivory industry. In addition, discussions were held overtly with major stakeholders, including government officials in the five countries. The illegal and unregulated domestic ivory markets in (each of) the five Central African countries have been one of the main sources fuelling ivory trade in the region, as well as in West and Southern Africa and beyond (especially to Asia) in recent years. The report’s findings show that open ivory markets in the region are disappearing, largely due to increased enforcement and competition with underground criminal networks. In its place, high-level corruption and poor governance are helping enable sophisticated international trade.

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