There was much celebration in the international community when China decided to ban the sale of ivory in January of this year.
"This is a significant step that should prove to be a huge boost to elephant protection efforts in Africa," said Fred Kuman, World Wildlife Fund's Africa Director. But his enthusiasm was not without a word of caution. "However, as the world commends China's leadership in a region rife with illegal wildlife trade, I can't help but be reminded of the enormity of the task that lies ahead, both in China and Africa."
Kuman knew something that those who deal with illegal trade always do: laws do not stifle demand. It's a relatively universal truth, one that applies to contraband from cocaine to ivory to Cuban cigars.
When one market shuts down, another opens up. When China made it illegal, syndicates in Vietnam went to work. A new report out this week from The Environmental Investigation Agency says that, "Increasingly prolific Vietnamese criminal syndicates are presenting a fast-growing threat to already besieged populations of elephants and other endangered wildlife."
Mary Rice, EIA's Executive Director, had this to say:
“It is deeply concerning that Vietnam, which claims to have made great progress in tackling the issue, is in reality a primary and fast-growing hub for ivory trafficking and the illegal wildlife trade."
You can view EIA's full report here: Exposing The Hydra: The Growing Role Of Vietnamese Ivory Syndicates.