Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS)

ETIS__ElephantThe Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) was established by the Conference of the Parties at its tenth meeting (CITES CoP10, Harare, 1997) to monitor and analyse illegal ivory trade trends. Its sister program, Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE), was similarly established to track elephant poaching on the ground at selected sites across Africa and Asia.
Both MIKE and ETIS were designed to support decision-making for elephant conservation under the Convention by providing essential information and analysis on illegal killing of elephants and illegal trafficking in ivory to the Standing Committee and to the Conference of the Parties. 
ETIS has been managed by TRAFFIC since its inception and uses elephant product seizure data to compile detailed analyses that help guide international policy decisions relating to ivory trade. Seizure data can provide unique insights into ivory trade dynamics, trends, and the evolution of illegal trade over time when other sources of information are simply not available. To meet the CITES mandate, TRAFFIC has pioneered analytical methods for ETIS data that allow seizure data to track global trade trends in illegal ivory. More on ETIS on the TRAFFIC webpage.
Read first edition of the Elephant Trade Information (ETIS) newsletter here 

Resolutions / Decisions

Reports to CITES

ETIS Online

ETIS Online page

ETIS Online is maintained by TRAFFIC for CITES Parties to enhance participation by having the opportunity to submit, access, review and download data relating to Parties’ country. Through ETIS Online, Parties are able to retrieve summary reports and other relevant outputs which are updated periodically. CITES Management Authorities are encouraged to sign on to ETIS and submit seizure data online. Training is available from TRAFFIC upon request.

ETIS objectives

The objectives of ETIS are defined within Resolution Conf. 10.10 (Rev. CoP18) and are as follows:

  1. measuring and recording current levels and trends, and changes in levels and trends of illegal trade in ivory in elephant range States, ivory consumer States and ivory transit States;
  2. assessing whether and to what extent observed trends are related to changes in the listing of elephant populations in the CITES appendices, measures concerning elephants and trade taken under the auspices of CITES and/or the resumption of legal international trade in ivory;
  3. establishing an information base to support the making of decisions on appropriate management, protection and enforcement needs; and
  4. building capacity in range States and, as applicable, countries involved in trade in elephant specimens, to implement and make use of ETIS in managing elephants and enhancing enforcement.

Donor Support

The ETIS Programme is entirely dependent on donor support. The following donors have been instrumental in the development and operation of the ETIS programme and ETIS Online: European Union; German Federal Ministry for the Environment; Belgian Federal Public Service for Food, Health, and the Environment; Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality; Dutch Federal Public Service, Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment; UK Darwin Initiative; University of Reading; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; U.S. Agency for International Development; and World Wildlife Fund.

MIKE-ETIS governance structure

Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) was established under Resolution Conf. 10.10 (Rev. CoP18), and is managed and coordinated by TRAFFIC in consultation with the MIKE and ETIS Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and in collaboration with the CITES Secretariat with oversight provided by the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee has set up a sub-group, known as the MIKE-ETIS Subgroup to oversee the further development, refinement and implementation of MIKE and ETIS. ETIS’ technical outputs are overseen by the TAG, which consists of volunteer experts drawn from across the globe.

Data and analysis


Illegal ivory trade flows are by their very nature largely unobservable and challenging to track and understand. But as the illegal trade unfolds, some transactions are detected and are seized. Resolution Conf. 10.10 (Rev. CoP18) recommends that Parties report seizures to ETIS within 90 days of their occurrence and a standardised data collection form has been in use since 1998.

What data are reported to ETIS?
  • Year the seizure was made
  • Country that made the seizure
  • Agency or authority that made the seizure
  • Ivory Quantity either in weight as kg, number of pieces, or preferably both
  • Ivory Type, either raw or worked
  • Non-Ivory elephant products Type and Quantity

In addition to the minimum requirements necessary for a seizure record ETIS also collects a range of contextual information to understand underlying trade dynamics, such as: other countries through which the consignment moved, or was moving to, and their role as countries of origin, export/re-export, transit, or destination; the mode of transport; the method of concealment and detection; and other contraband in the consignment. ETIS reporting should therefore include any kind of ivory seizure that takes place in a country, not just events that occur at the point of illegal importation or export. 

Overview of the ETIS Analyses

The use of seizure data to provide information on the levels and trends in the illegal ivory trade is not straightforward. Simple summaries of seizure data can be misleading as they ignore biases in the data; seizures are an incomplete picture of all illegal trade as not all illegal transactions are seized, and not all seizures are reported. 

The ETIS analysis consists of a series of models to address the biases in the data due to variable seizure and reporting rates so that bias-adjusted results in terms of illegal ivory trade patterns can be delivered to CITES. The analysis produces two main outputs presented collectively, and separately for several weight classes of raw and worked ivory as follows: a Transaction Index depicting estimated relative numbers of illegal ivory trade transactions by year and a Weight Index depicting estimated relative quantity of illegal ivory in trade each year. Using these model outputs, a Cluster Analysis identifies countries which demonstrate similar behaviour with respect to the illegal ivory trade to inform the National Ivory Action Plans process.

Additional information on the analytical methods


Trends in ivory trade and regional statistics

Trends in ivory trade
The latest trend analysis was conducted for CoP18 (Geneva, 2019) and includes data from 2008 to 2017. During 2020 the trend analysis will be completed with updated data for 2018–2019.








Data Summaries

As of July 2020, there were over 30,000 records in ETIS from 1989–2019, of which almost 28,000 represented ivory seizures, whilst the remainder comprised non-ivory elephant products. In cases where only the number of pieces, rather than the weight, of the seizure were provided in the raw data, weights were estimated from the number of pieces by using methodologies from Milliken et al. 2018 and Underwood et al. 2013. We caution that data summaries provided should not be interpreted as a trend, nor are they suggestive of absolute quantities of ivory seized over time, because of inherent bias in the seizure data submitted owing to variable rates of making and reporting seizures to ETIS between and within countries over time.

Number of ivory seizure cases and weight seized by year from 1989 - 2019.  Summaries are based on data submitted up to 8 July 2020 that were ETIS validated. Weight seized indicates actual reported raw ivory weights, adjusted reported worked seizure weights by the raw ivory equivalent (RIE) conversion factor, or estimated weights for raw or worked seizures that reported the number of pieces but had missing weights (based on procedures described in Milliken et al. 2018 and Underwood et al. 2013).



The following map provides aggregated data summaries by country and by year of seizures reported to ETIS. Summary tables are grouped by CITES Region. The number of seizures and total weight for each country with at least one seizure reported from 2008–2019 are linked below. Summaries are based on data submitted up to 8 July 2020 that were ETIS validated. Weight seized indicates actual reported raw ivory weights, adjusted reported worked seizure weights by the raw ivory equivalent (RIE) conversion factor, or estimated weights for raw or worked seizures that reported the number of pieces but had missing weights (based on procedures described in Milliken et al. 2018 and Underwood et al. 2013).



North Africa Central America
East Africa North America
West Africa  
Central Africa East Asia
Southern Africa South Asia
  Southeast Asia
Middle East