CITES had created a system which increased the value of ivory on the international market, rewarded international smugglers and gave them the ability to control the trade and continue smuggling new ivory.Further failures of this "control" system were uncovered by the EIA when they gained undercover access and filmed ivory carving factories run by Hong Kong traders, including Poon, in the United Arab Emirates.They also collected official trade statistics, airway bills and further evidence in UAE, Singapore and Hong Kong.The UAE statistics showed that this country alone had imported over 200 tonnes of raw and simply prepared ivory in 1987/88.By the 1970s, Japan consumed about 40% of the global trade; another 40% was consumed by Europe and North America, often worked in Hong Kong, which was the largest trade hub, with most of the rest remaining in Africa.
This started to put pressure on the forest elephants of Africa and Asia, both of which were used to supply the hard ivory preferred by the Japanese for the production of hankos, or name seals.
Ivory was formerly used to make piano keys and other decorative items because of the white color it presents when processed but the piano industry abandoned ivory as a key covering material in the 1970s.
Elephant ivory has been exported from Africa and Asia for centuries with records going back to the 14th century BCE.
In 19, CITES registered 89.5 and 297 tonnes of ivory in Burundi and Singapore respectively.
Burundi had one known live wild elephant and Singapore had none.