Canada implements stricter measures for elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn trade
November 20, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario
Around the world, biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate. Since 1980, the number of elephants in Africa has fallen from 1.3 million to approximately 415,000—a decline of 70 percent, and rhinoceros populations continue to face threats to their survival. In recent years, there have been increased calls globally for countries to take further action to protect these species.
That is why today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced a stricter approach to trade for Canada that will further limit the ability to transport all elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn across Canadian borders.
These new, stricter measures will result in the prohibition of the import and export of raw elephant ivory and raw rhinoceros horn with very limited exceptions (i.e., where destined for a museum or zoo, use in scientific research, or use in support of law enforcement), and prohibit the import of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn hunting trophies. Also, permits will now be required for household items and personal effects of worked elephant ivory and worked rhinoceros horn.
Canada adheres to its obligations on the trade of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), through a permitting system for imports, exports, and re-exports. In some instances, Canada already has stronger requirements than CITES, requiring additional permits. The new measures announced today demonstrate Canada’s commitment to protecting, conserving, and enhancing global biodiversity.
“Conserving and restoring biodiversity is an international challenge. The Government of Canada strongly opposes the illegal trade of wildlife globally. With the fast decline of African elephant populations and threats to rhinoceros populations due to poaching, Canada recognizes the importance of further limiting elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn trade to Canada. Stricter regulatory amendments announced today will ensure Canada continues to do its part to protect these iconic species for generations to come.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“Elephant and rhino populations have been decimated by global trade in their parts, and poaching causes considerable suffering to these incredible animals. In banning trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn, the Canadian government has shown considerable leadership and reflected the will of Canadians and the vast majority of African nations holding elephant populations. At last, Canadians can rest assured that our country is doing our part to ensure these majestic animals have a future.”
– Kelly Butler, Wildlife Campaign Manager for Humane Society International/Canada
“I am thrilled that Canada has enacted these urgently needed regulations in order to safeguard elephant and rhino populations. As a conservationist working on the ground in Kenya, I have seen firsthand the devastating effects of poaching and trophy hunting on African elephant and rhino populations. We need countries around the world to act now in order to protect these amazing animals, and Canada's actions send an important message: ivory belongs to elephants.”
– Dr. Winnie Kiiru, Kenyan Biologist and Leading Elephant Conservationist
“Burkina Faso congratulates Canada on this historic decision. Canada follows in the footsteps of other countries, such as the USA, China, Hong Kong SAR, and the EU, which have all closed or severely restricted their domestic ivory markets in recent years. This sends a very strong message to all traffickers and poachers: ivory has no market value anywhere in the world! These measures taken by these various countries could lead to a significant drop in illegal elephant killings in all African elephant range states, and particularly in Burkina Faso.”
– Dieudonné Yameogo, Director of Wildlife and Game Resources of Burkina Faso
“As a long-time animal advocate, I am thrilled that Canada has listened to the overwhelming number of Canadians who demanded action to end the senseless killing of elephants and rhinos. The policies enacted by the Canadian government set a powerful precedent for countries around the world to join the fight to protect elephants and rhinos.”
– Bryan Adams, Order of Canada Recipient, and one of the best-selling musicians of all time
“I have had the great privilege of observing wild African elephants and, like so many other Canadians, I am devastated by the prospect of their extinction and their ongoing suffering at the hands of humans. The survival of African elephants and rhinos hinges on the actions of the global community, and I commend Canada for enacting meaningful policies to safeguard these amazing animals for generations to come.”
– Robert Bateman, Renowned Canadian Artist and Conservationist
“The team at Elephanatics is thrilled that regulations to ban the elephant ivory and rhino horn trade, along with the import of hunting trophies containing these parts, are to be enacted by the Canadian Government. We would like to thank all the scientists, NGOs, politicians, and people who worked tirelessly to make this happen. From the petition created by the Ivory-Free Canada Coalition that reached over 700,000 signatures and showed overwhelming support to save elephants and rhinos, to endless advocacy, to the collaboration of like minds working together to save a species, our mission to ban the elephant ivory and rhino horn trade has come to fruition. It is a time to be grateful and to celebrate this grand achievement. We did it!”
– Fran Duthie, President of Elephanatics
“The poaching of elephants for ivory—from which international criminal syndicates profit—and the ensuing decimation of African elephant populations is tragic. Witnessing Kenya's ivory burn was a very powerful moment for all of us, and a shocking reminder of the scale at which elephants are being slaughtered, day after day, year after year. We commend the Canadian government for ending its role in this terrible, destructive industry which perpetuates the devastation of elephant and rhino populations.”
– Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal, and Nicholas de Pencier, Creators of The Anthropocene Project, which documented the largest elephant ivory burn in history, in Kenya, 2016
Domestically, between 2015 and 2021, there was an average of 14 elephant tusks and two rhinoceros horns imported into Canada per year.
In June 2023, the proposed ivory amendments were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 30-day public comment period. Nearly 100 comments were received from various partners and stakeholders, and most were supportive of stricter controls.
Trade in African and Asian elephants and rhinoceros and their parts is regulated internationally through CITES. CITES is an international agreement between governments that aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
In Canada, CITES is implemented through the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA) and the Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations (WAPTR). WAPPRIITA/WAPTR regulates imports and exports to and from Canada and interprovincial/territorial transport of certain wildlife species.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
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