Monday, 18 January 2016

As speculators dump ivory can elephants recover in 2016?

May 2015 was a turning point for ivory prices according to an unpublished report commissioned by the China office of a major international wildlife charity. Since that time the price of illegal ivory has more than halved. The study indicate that dumping of ivory by speculators is the cause of the price drop. International efforts to control poaching and – more importantly – the closure of markets means that ivory is no longer attractive to commodity dealers.

The study which indicates that investors and not consumers drove the massive increase in poaching since 2007 does answer a number of questions. Those who have been watching and reporting on the illegal ivory trade over a number of years have been vexed over why there has been such a big boost to prices and demand but the shops and dealers have not seen the increasing demand on the street. Yes there has been some increase in demand as Asia becomes more wealthy but for the increase in poaching to be explained then the ivory shops and dealers would be packed with panic buyers. That is not the case and there had to be another reason for the price trend that did not take into account the supply and demand in the marketplace. 

The indication and gut feeling for many was that international speculators – mainly based in Hong Kong – was driving the market and these speculators were hoarding the ivory for profit-taking at a later date. 2015 saw a number of major moves that made ivory a bad buy for speculators and caused them to start dumping their stocks. 

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