Ivory: the Cannes scandal

23 Feb 2015

On 27 January 2015 the French Minister of Ecology gave instructions to services to not further deliver CITES certificates (1) for re-export of raw tusks or ivory tusk sections. She also called upon the European Commission so as for “Member States to no longer encourage demand by exporting legal ivory, being proven that it plays an important role in development of illegal slaughter of elephants.” This decision was applauded by 39 Non-Governmental Organizations around the world who had asked Madam Royal to take such action. (2)

Yet, Cannes Enchères, an auction room in the French Riviera, is holding on the 7 March 2015 a new large scale sale of elephant tusks. To circumvent the French decision, Cannes Enchères found a trick. The tusks will be sent to Belgium as permitted by the CITES certificate that authorizes circulation within EU. The tusks will then be attributed re-exportation CITES permits delivered by the Belgian authorities and sent to the new owners by Art on the Move, a company based in Brussels expert in logistics and custom formalities applicable to antiquities and collector’s items. Cannes Enchères is assuring potential buyers in Asia and the Middle East that the process is feasible and legal. In such conditions, the raw ivory can sell for much more than if auctioning had been limited to French buyers.

As the Ministry of Ecology specified in a communiqué dated 28 January 2015, export permits delivered by a Member State of the European Union “can be deterred by traffickers to enable sales of illegal ivory.”

Also, in the catalogue presently available on the Cannes Enchères Website can be seen the logos of the Ministry of Ecology and CITES (3). This deceitful use caps off the strategy chosen by Cannes Enchères, self-proclaimed n°1 worldwide in tusk sales.

For these reasons, Robin des Bois is asking the Ministry of Ecology to oversee the strict obedience of the decision of 27 January 2015, to urge Belgium not to be party to this maneuver, and if necessary to order the tusks be removed from the bidding on 7 March 2015. Robin des Bois also informs the CITES Secretariat of use of its logo for commercial means.

The attempt to circumvent the decision of the 27 January 2015 confirms the need and pertinence to suspend all trade in raw ivory in France as requested by the 39 organizations. As a first step, only exports have been suspended sine die by the French Ministry of Ecology.

(1) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
(2) Press released and letter attached
Robin des Bois, Amboseli Trust for Elephant, Animal Defenders International, l’Association pour la Protection des Animaux Sauvages, Animal Welfare Institute, Awely des animaux et des hommes, Born Free Foundation, Born Free USA, Centre for Coastal Environmental Conservation, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Eastern Caribbean Coalition for Environmental Awareness, Ecologie sans frontière, Environmental Investigation Agency, ElephantVoices, la Fondation Brigitte Bardot, la Fondation Franz Weber, Gallmann Memorial Foundation, Hong Kong for Elephants, Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, International Animal Rescue, L214, la Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, Mille Traces, Occupy for Animals, Outraged South African Citizens Against Rhino Poaching, Pan African Wildlife Conservation Network, Performing Animal Welfare Society, Planète Tigre, Prowildlife, Save The Elephants, Shark Research Institute, Sharkprotect, la Société Nationale de Protection de la Nature, Species Survival Network, WildAid, Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand et 30 Millions d’Amis.
(3) See attached document (pdf)


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