Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued a combined fine totalling $12,500 against an auction company and its director for unlawfully exporting a product made of python and two pieces of elephant ivory. The products were exported in contravention of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA).
The WAPPRIITA was enacted to implement Canada’s obligations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES bans or limits the trade of 1000s of listed plant and animal species, including their parts and derivatives. The illegal international trade in wildlife is extremely lucrative, and it continues to devastate the planet’s biodiversity.
Elephants have been particularly affected by the illicit trade in ivory. Wild populations of elephants, particularly in central Africa, have declined precipitously as demand for ivory has increased, which, in turn, has driven increasingly bold and devastating poaching efforts. A one-time auction of stockpiles of ivory that had been confiscated from poachers by governments in several African countries in 2008 has also fuelled consumer demand and poaching.
Environment and Climate Change Canada reports that it conducted 2930 inspections under WAPPRIITA in 2014, the most recent year for which data appears to be available. Under section 22 of WAPPRIITA, a first contravention of the act or its regulations can, on summary conviction, lead to a fine of up to $50,000 for corporations or a fine of up to $25,000 and/or six months imprisonment for individuals. On indictment, a corporation can be fined up to $300,000 and an individual $150,000 and/or 5 years imprisonment. A court can make additional orders, including payment of an additional fine equal to the monetary benefits accrued to the person as a result of the commission of the offence.