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Understanding the Market Drivers Behind the Reduced Demand for Ivory Products in Japan

Thomas-Walters, Laura, Morkel, Benoit, Kubo, Takahiro, 't Sas Rolfes, Michael, Smith, Robert J., Veríssimo, Diogo (2023) Understanding the Market Drivers Behind the Reduced Demand for Ivory Products in Japan. Conservation & Society, 21 (1). pp. 1-16. ISSN 0972-4923. (doi:10.4103/cs.cs_155_21) (KAR id:100685)


Reducing demand for wildlife products has been recognised as an important global priority. However, consumer demand is a complicated phenomenon involving numerous interacting biological and socio-economic factors, operating at a range of scales and time periods. The demand for elephant ivory is an excellent illustration of the gaps in our current knowledge. Although it is well-documented that Japan is no longer a significant destination consumer market for ivory products, we have little insight into the market drivers behind this change. This is partly because post-hoc evaluations are difficult when relying on traditional quantitative methods. We used General Elimination Methodology and semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders to understand the consumer changes in Japan. We identified the two biggest market drivers—the CITES international trade ban and economic recession—as well as a range of minor drivers and enabling conditions. These included respect for government authority, the passive nature of demand for ivory, and a general cultural shift away from conspicuous consumption. This case study highlights the role of theory-based qualitative evaluations in conservation, which recognises that specific outcomes are likely to be caused by multiple contributing factors driven by interactions between different actors.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.4103/cs.cs_155_21
Uncontrolled keywords: behaviour change, conservation social science, consumer research, demand reduction, impact evaluation, qualitative, wildlife trade
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Bob Smith
Date Deposited: 02 Apr 2023 14:14 UTC
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2023 12:14 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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