1981 Due to the increasing monetary value of ivory, illegal trade activities reached a significant level. Ivory was frequently trade with inadequate documentation, and States that were not Party to the Convention played a special role in this trade. Positive results experienced by a number of Parties having applied stricter domestic measures for ivory trade, in accordance with the provisions of Article XIV were noted.

1983 The feelings of the producer countries on the question of restricting the ivory trade were illustrated by the preamble of Resolution Conf 4.14, on trade in worked ivory:
The African Parties participating in the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties submit that the statement made by the President of Botswana in his opening speech, that "….. it’s encouraging to note that CITES does not prohibit or discourage legalised trade in wild fauna and flora but rather that it aims at controlling the trade so as to ensure the sustainable utilisation of the resource…….", is the crux of participation in and ratification of CITES and acknowledge that the wild fauna and flora are preserved in Africa for their inherent value, they also constitute an economic resource of major importance to the continent which can and should be used correctly for the benefit of the resource and the people on whose land it occurs.

They emphasized the great concern of the African Parties present and participating at the fourth meeting of the COP to ensure that CITES is both efficient and does not impede the legitimate trade in wild flora and fauna or reduce the profitability of this trade, and submitted that it would be in conflict with the purpose of CITES if the Convention were to be used in any way to devalue wildlife. The African Parties further believed that the endeavours by some Parties to control the trade in worked ivory are an unnecessary negative influence on the value of ivory and overlook the status of the African elephant as agreed at the IUCN meeting of the African elephant and Rhino specialist group held in 1981.

The Conference directed the Technical Committee to draw up guidelines for controlling the trade in worked ivory as quickly as possible and in so doing to liase closely with African Parties as well as other Parties having elephant populations.

Thus, Appendix II was insufficient while Appendix I was found to be counterproductive and might even have put the continued participation of a number of ivory producing countries in CITES at stake.

1984 The European Commission hosts a Seminar on CITES implementation in Africa in Brussels prior to a meeting of the Technical Committee. During that seminar the basis for a solution to the ivory trade problem was found, the key features thereof being export quotas for raw ivory based on scientifically established management programs, no trade from countries without such quotas and no trade in unmarked ivory. The approach was fully endorsed by the Technical Committee.

The Secretariat designed a project, which was aimed at providing the necessary basis for the establishment of quotas. As the Secretariat was to play a central role in the co-ordination of the ivory trade controls, it proposed the establishment of a special unit within the Secretariat for that purpose.

The quota system was approved and the Secretariat’s proposal for the creation of the Ivory Control Unit added a number of powerful tools to the conventional Appendix II controls and at the time allowed the Parties not to go as far as to prohibit international trade in African elephant ivory.

1987 At the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties no less than six resolutions were adopted to refine the quota system.

1989 At the seventh meeting of the COP, the African elephant was transferred to Appendix I.
In adopting the transfer to Appendix I in 1989, the Conference of the Parties also adopted a special mechanism for the transfer of African elephant populations from Appendix I to Appendix II. The preamble of Resolution 7.9 even stated that the COP was aware that populations of elephants in certain African states, which may not meet the specific criteria, were transferred to Appendix I. The Parties agreed that transfer to Appendix II shall be considered on the basis of a report to the Parties that addresses, inter alia:
the status of elephant populations,
the effectiveness of elephant conservation measures, and
the degree of control of the movement of ivory within and through the Parties including those that may have entered a reservation with respect to the listing of Loxodonta africana in Appendix I of the Convention and that the Parties had called upon UNEP, IUCN and TRAFFIC to provide nominees to serve on a Panel of Experts to advise the COP on requests for transferring particular elephant populations back to Appendix II.

The Terms of Reference for the Panel of Experts on the African elephant and criteria for the transfer of certain African elephant populations from Appendix I to Appendix II were also laid down in Resolution Conf 7.9

1994 All earlier recommendations were – with a view to reduce the number of applicable resolutions – consolidated in Resolution Conf 9.16: Trade in African elephant ivory

1997 Resolution Conf 7.9 replaced by Resolution Conf 10.9: Consideration of proposals for the transfer of African elephant populations from Appendix I to Appendix II. In this Resolution’s preamble it is reiterated that the transfer of the African elephant to Appendix I was agreed by the COP in 1989 although populations in certain range States may not have met the necessary criteria.

Important aspects set out in Resolution Conf 10.9:
a) All proposals to transfer populations of the African elephant from Appendix I to Appendix II shall be subject to a review by a Panel of Experts, which shall consider:
the scientific evidence regarding the numbers and trends of the populations;
the conservation and management of these populations, and threats to their status; and
the adequacy of controls on trade in ivory and other parts and derivatives;

b) The Panel of Experts shall include expertise from the following areas:
elephant ecology and population biology
field conservation and management
monitoring of trade in parts and derivatives of elephants
establishment and operation of trade regimes including establishment of quotas
security aspects of stocks of elephant parts and derivatives and/or wildlife law enforcement.

c) In evaluating the status and management of an elephant population the Panel of Experts shall take into account:
the viability and sustainability of the population, and potential risks;
the affected range State’s demonstrated ability to monitor the subject population; and
the effectiveness of current anti-poaching measures

d) In evaluating the affected range State’s ability to control trade in ivory from African elephants, the Panel of Experts shall take into account:
whether total levels of off-take from both legal and illegal killing are sustainable;
whether control of ivory stocks is adequate to prevent the mixing of legal and illegal ivory;
whether law enforcement is effective; and
whether enforcement and controls are sufficient to ensure that no significant amounts of ivory taken or traded illegally from other countries are traded within or through the territory of the affected range State

The Parties shall take into account the report of the Panel of Experts and in particular:
the status of the elephant population in the affected range State;
the affected range State’s ability to manage and conserve its population effectively; and
the affected range State’s ability to control trade in elephant ivory.

Resolution Conf. 9.16 replaced with Resolution 10.10: Trade in elephant specimens. This Resolution notes that the African elephant (Loxodonta Africana) was transferred from Appendix II to Appendix I at the seventh meeting of the COP, but some populations were transferred back to Appendix II, under certain conditions, at the 10th meeting (Populations of Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe).

2000 Resolution Conf 10.10 revised. Population of South Africa transferred to Appendix II, under a set of conditions.
This Resolution addresses the following important issues relating to trade in elephant specimens are addressed:
Definitions for raw and worked ivory
Control of internal ivory trade
Monitoring of illegal hunting of and trade in elephant specimens
Assistance to elephant range States
Quotas for and trade in raw ivory

2002 Six proposals submitted to be considered at the 12th COP:
Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe submitted proposals to allow trade in ivory
Zambia submitted a proposal to down-list the national population and allow trade in ivory
Kenya and India submitted a proposal to list all African elephant populations on Appendix I


In order to monitor and record levels of illegal trade in ivory and other elephant specimens on a global basis, there is a need for a system to collect and compile law enforcement data on seizures and confiscations. The COP recognised the Bad Ivory Database System (BIDS) established by TRAFFIC for this purposes in 1992. Currently, BIDS contains details of more than 4 000 ivory seizures, representing nearly 100 tonnes of ivory from over 40 countries around the world since 1989.

Although further development and refinement are necessary, BIDS is designated as the appropriate instrument for monitoring the pattern and measuring the scale of illegal trade in ivory and other elephant specimens. The analysis and interpretation of data will be coordinated by TRAFFIC in association with the CITES Secretariat and institutions involved with monitoring elephant poaching. TRAFFIC will produce a comprehensive report to each meeting of the COP.


In order to address the concerns of many elephant range States, it is necessary to establish a system through which the impact of CITES decisions with respect to elephants and trade in elephant specimens can be measured. Of primary importance is the establishment of a simple system of international reporting of incidents of illegal hunting as a baseline against which changes in trends can be detected. It is recognised that such measurement must consist of two elements:
Monitoring of parameters relevant to the issue, such as the pattern and scale illegal killing, the pattern and scale of illegal trade in ivory, the effort and resources being applied to detection and/or prevention and the monetary value of illegally traded ivory, as well as other factors that might affect these parameters, such as civil strife, the flow of illegal arms and ammunition, loss of habitat and drought.
The determination of whether or not there is a casual relationship between changes in these parameters and the decisions of the COP with regard to elephants.

The overall aim is to build institutional capacity within the range States for the long-term management of their elephant populations.


At the 10th COP the following two Decisions were adopted:
Decision 10.1 Conditions for the resumption of trade in African elephant ivory from populations transferred to Appendix II at the 10th COP
Trade in raw ivory shall not resume unless:
deficiencies identified by the CITES Panel of Experts in enforcement and control measures have been remedied
the fulfilment of the conditions in this Decision has been verified by the CITES Secretariat in consultation with the African regional representatives on the Standing Committee, their alternates and other experts as appropriate;
the Standing Committee has agreed that all of the conditions in this Decision have been met;
the reservations entered by the range States with regard to the transfer of the African elephant to Appendix I were withdrawn by these range States prior to the entry into force of the transfer to Appendix II;
the relevant range States support and commit themselves to international co-operation in law enforcement through such mechanisms as the Lusaka Agreement;
the relevant range States have strengthened and /or established mechanisms to reinvest trade revenues into elephant conservation;
the Standing Committee has agreed to a mechanism to halt trade and immediately re-transfer to Appendix I populations that have been transferred to Appendix II, in the event of non-compliance with the conditions in this Decision or of the escalation of illegal hunting of elephants and/or trade in elephant products owing to the resumption of legal trade (The Standing Committee agreed at its 40th meeting that in the event of non-compliance with the conditions of Decision 10.1

Decision 10:2 Conditions for the disposal of ivory stocks and generating resources for conservation in African elephant range States
The elephant range States recognise:
the threats that stockpiles pose to sustainable legal trade;
that stockpiles are a vital economic resource for them
that various funding commitments were made by donor countries and agencies to offset the loss of assets in the interest of unifying these States regarding the inclusion of African elephant populations in Appendix I
the significance of channelling such assets from ivory into improving conservation and community-based conservation and development programmes
the failure of donors to fund elephant conservation action plans drawn up by the range States at the urging of donor countries and conservation organisations; and
that, at its ninth meeting, the Conference of the Parties directed the Standing Committee to review the issue of stockpiles and to report back at the 10th meeting.
Accordingly, the African elephant range States agree that all revenues from any purchase of stockpiles by donor countries and organisations will be deposited in and managed through conservation trust funds, and that:
such funds shall be managed by Boards of Trustees (such as representatives of governments, donors, the CITES Secretariat, etc.) set up, as appropriate, in each range State, which would direct the proceeds into enhanced conservation, monitoring, capacity building and local community based programmes; and
these funds must have a positive rather than harmful influence on elephant conservation.
It is understood that this decision provides for a one-off purchase for non-commercial purposes of government stocks declared by African elephant range States to the CITES Secretariat within the 90-day period before the transfer to Appendix II of certain populations of the African elephant takes effect. The ivory stocks declared should be marked in accordance with the ivory marking system approved by the Conference of Parties. In addition, the source of ivory stocks should be given. The stocks of ivory should be consolidated in a pre-determined number of locations. An independent audit of any declared stocks shall be undertaken under the auspices of TRAFFIC International, in co-operation with the CITES Secretariat.
The African elephant range States that have not yet been able to register their ivory stocks and develop adequate controls over ivory stocks require priority assistance from donor countries to establish a level of conservation management conducive to the long-term survival of the African elephant.
The African elephant range States therefore urge that this matter be acted upon urgently since any delays will result in illegal trade and the premature opening of ivory trade in non-proponent range States.
This mechanism only applies to those range States wishing to dispose of ivory stocks and agreeing to and participating in:
An international system for reporting and monitoring legal and illegal international trade, through an international database in the CITES Secretariat and TRAFFIC International; and
An international system for reporting and monitoring illegal trade and illegal hunting within or between elephant range States, through an international database in the CITES Secretariat, with support from TRAFFIC International and institutions such as the IUCN SSC African Elephant Specialist Group and the Lusaka Agreement.