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AsESG side event at the CITES CoP18 meeting, Geneva on 22nd August 2019 :

The AsESG in partnership with Elephant Family, International Fund for Animal Welfare and WWF organized a side event on the Impact of poaching and illegal trade on Asian Elephants at the CITES CoP18 meeting held at Geneva on 22nd August 2019.

Poaching is a major threat to elephants in Asia, although reliable estimates of the number of elephants killed and the quantities of ivory and other body parts collected and traded are scarce. It was traditionally believed that poaching is a relatively minor threat to Asian elephant because some males and all females lack tusks but in reality Asian elephants are poached not only for ivory but for a variety of other products (including meat and skin), and poaching is acknowledged as a threat to the long-term survival of some Asian elephant populations. In recent decades, selective poaching of tuskers for ivory has progressively skewed the sex ratio in several Asian elephant populations. This affects the genetic variation in such populations and may result in interbreeding impacting population. Large-scale hunting of elephants for ivory, bush meat, skin and other products has reduced their populations significantly over a wide area in some countries. The emerging trade of skin in southeast Asia in recent years is a major concern. Although the trade of elephant skin has been going on for over a decade but since 2014, there has been increase in poaching and trade /sales with main source of elephant skin being Myanmar and the products (beads / pendants, skin pieces, powder) are traded in nearby countries in southeast Asia (Elephant Family, 2018 and 2019). The trade could result in indiscriminate killing of elephants of both sexes threating fragile elephant population in the region.

The event was addressed by the following eminent speakers and the discussion moderated by Mr Matthew Collis, Director International Policy, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Issues ranging from poaching and illegal killing of elephants for ivory, elephant skin trade, live elephant trade, enforcement efforts undertaken in different range states as well as the overall illegal wildlife scenario was discussed at the conference. A large number of professionals from various organization, Institutes and Range countries attended the conference.

  1. Mr M S Negi, Addl. Director General of Forest (WL), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India: India’s Initiatives for Preventing Illegal Trade in Elephant Products, especially Ivory
  2. Dato. Abdul Kadir bin Abu Hashim, Director General of Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Peninsular Malaysia: Illegal ivory trade- Malaysian Government’s Strategies and Effort
  3. Mr M.G.C. Sooriyabandara, Director General, Department of Wildlife Conservation Sri Lanka and Head CITES Management Authority: Elephant conservation in Sri Lanka
  4. Mr Justin Gosling, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Consultant: Update on Elephant Poaching and Trafficking in Myanmar
  5. Mr. Suraphong Chaweepak, Director of International Wildlife Trade Permission, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Thailand: The Conservation of Thai Elephants for Sustainable Development
  6. Mr Masayuki Sakamoto, Executive Director, Japan Tiger and Elephant Fund: Japan's domestic ivory market posing a potential threat to Asian elephants
Speakers and audience at the AsESG side event

Speakers at AsESG side event- (left to right) Mr Masayuki Sakamoto, Mr. Suraphong Chaweepak, Mr Matthew Collis, Mr Justin Gosling, Dato. Abdul Kadir bin Abu Hashim, Mr M S Negi and Mr M.G.C. Sooriyabandara

Mr M.G.C. Sooriyabandara, Director General, Department of Wildlife Conservation Sri Lanka and Head CITES Management Authority addressing the meeting


The Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG) is a global network of specialists concerned with the study, monitoring, management, and conservation of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in its 13 range states