Thirty-two African states recently called on the EU to fully ban its ivory trade. The US and China fully outlawed it in 2016 and 2017 respectively, with China currently taking the normative lead and setting the agenda. The EU lags behind, still allowing partial trade while also hosting the world’s largest hub for ivory smuggling. In Africa, external actors’ interests meet those of local and national players, now more than ever equipped to steer the debate over whether the ivory trade should be fully banned, or rather regulated. How does the interplay look like between international actors and local communities, states and armed groups, law enforcing initiatives and cybercrime? Who holds the best cards in the hard-pushed race for wildlife conservation? While the EU is due to decide in July 2018 whether to join China and the US in fully banning the ivory trade, how much will the EU’s decision impact local and international efforts made so far?