The fastest growing ivory market in the world is now Laos, according to an investigation by Kenya-based group Save the Elephants. China is banning all ivory trade by the end of 2017, but business is booming in neighbouring countries.
Investigators visited a Chinese casino resort on the Mekong River. They described a hub of gambling and prostitution, where ivory sales are booming among Chinese visitors who make up more than 80% of sales. The researchers found dozens of shops selling thousands of items - carved tusks, ivory bangles, pendants and bracelets - openly for sale.
Like Vietnam and Myanmar, the prices are cheaper in Laos than on the Chinese mainland, and law and order is lacking - the report authors say - meaning the illegal cross-border trade is not policed.
"In the absence of effective law enforcement, the sales of ivory items to Chinese consumers will continue to rise," said researcher Esmond Martin.
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