African study: Ivory demand surges in Laos

JOHANNESBURG: A new report says the illegal sale of African ivory in Laos is surging even as neighbouring China phases out its own legal ivory market.

Save the Elephants, a Kenya-based conservation group, said Thursday that the number of Chinese-owned retail outlets selling elephant ivory Laos increased significantly between 2013 and 2016, and that the majority of buyers are visitors from China.

The group’s researchers say some ivory goods were crafted in Vietnam while ivory has also illegally reached Laos from Thailand, where traders face a crackdown by authorities.

They say ivory goods are sold openly in Laos, despite the country’s pledge to curb wildlife trafficking. China, the world’s largest ivory consumer, says it plans to shut down its ivory trade by the end of this year.

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