Appraisals and the basics of CITES and it’s oversight of Ivory.

Some coaching on CITES and what it’s purposes is.

CITES is a legally binding, voluntary accord, between 176 Party Nations, for the conservation of approximately 30,000 species of wildlife (fauna) and wild plants (flora), in order to ensure their survival. It covers the legal and illegal trade in both living pants and animals, as well as their “products”, which include such things as ivory for carving, pelts for worship and clothing, spleens and bones for medicine and “ego” boosting. Unfortunately, many of these Party countries who are to enforce these rules on the importation, exportation and exploitation of fauna and flora, are also the worst offenders.

If you have never truly considered the incredible number of elephants, rhinos, leopards, tigers, birds of prey, etc. being poached, just look at a few of the images here, burning ivory, and I think you will truly be affected by the real size of the problem and the truth of the impending extinction of these animals, due to a proper lack of enforcement and to their “allowed” illegal trade.

The image immediately below is exactly why severe enforcement of poaching must be increased and large caches of confiscated poached ivory must not be sold, but burned! Something I find very hard to say, but believe is right. This issue is directly addressed in this New York Times article dated August 25, 2009, where this image is from, found at:


The image below shows what a number of countries do, in this case Kenya, with their confiscated poached ivory caches to protest the killing of their precious wildlife heritage for ivory, rhino horns and hides. I hate to see it burned, as I think it is a slap in the face of each animal’s life and beauty that was poached. However, for the better good of each species, this is the only and best practice, because if there are no new ivory pieces to carve, then demand for them will eventually dry up. This image is from the Animal Connection blog, found at:


Greg C. Brown, MS, ISA, CAGA.                                                                                                                                                                                    President, Greg C. Brown & Associates, Inc. Appraisal Services.                                                                                                                           Minnesota Sub-Chapter Chairman, The Explorers Club.

Ivory, it’s rules and CITIES.

I was talking to a client the other day about a zebra hide that he has and he asked if I know if it was legal for him to own and/or sell. I told him I was not sure off the top of my head, but believed, of the three speceis of zebra and seven subspecies, that only the Grevy’s Zebra was endangered, the others ranging from “Least Concern to Vulnerable” and that to be sure we know the rules correctly, I should check with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services (USFWS). I let him know we can do an identification of the pelt to try to properly identify the animal. I started to talk to him about the issues surrounding the art ivory trade, most of it out of Asia today. As a credentialed and USPAP compliant appraiser, I get these types of questions all the time about appraising, valuing, and if things are legal to possess/sell or not. I have people ask for appraisals and consultations on Asian, African and Inuit / Inupiat – Yupik – Aleut Ivory frequently.

The issues surrounding ivory sales, importation, collecting, etcetera are indeed confusing. I am going to try to make it a bit more clear over the next few days in a couple of paragraph chunks. If anyone finds that I have made a misstatement, please feel free to explain and if you can cite the proper reference.

It is my opinion that most angles of this argument are legitimate, except the illegal trade, and poaching of ivory bearing animals and a recent decision to sell off about 108 tons of confiscated poached ivory. Each side’s proponents of this argument surrounding ivory and how it should be treated get heated about their positions and frequently become selfish and thoughtless, as each sides passion to make their opinion known end up ruling their emotions, and cooler heads do not prevail through understanding and compromise with each other.

Please understand, my comments will be based in two sets of rules, those of the United States of American and those of CITES established by the international community under the World Conservation Union. So, if my statements do not agree with those of your country, please feel free to add to mine, but do not reprimand me for not knowing your rules properly, I do not claim to know the information of each country around the world. This blog on the rules of ivory is to enlighten people to some degree, and I would love input from people in other countries to enhance this information for everyone.

The first bit of coaching has to do with, what does CITES stand for? This means Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fuana and Flora. Secondly, when was CITES created? Quoting from the CITIES website found at:,

“CITES was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of IUCN (The World Conservation Union). The text of the Convention was finally agreed at a meeting of representatives of 80 countries in Washington DC., United States of America, on 3 March 1973, and on 1 July 1975 CITES entered in force. The original of the Convention was deposited with the Depositary Government in the Chinese, English, FrenchRussian and Spanish languages, each version being equally authentic.

Tomorrow I will try in two paragraphs or so, to coach you through the basics of the CITES convention and what it is about, with an emphasis on ivory.

Greg C. Brown, MS, ISA, CAGA.                                                                                                                                                President,  Greg C. Brown & Associates, Inc.                                                                                                                            Minnesota Sub-Chapter Chairman, The Explorers Club.