United Nations Shoots Down Tanzania and Zambia’s Bid to Lift Ivory Ban
Hooray for elephants!
The 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species first rejected the Tanzania proposal for a one-off sale of existing ivory stocks and then swept aside a Zambian compromise to allow for future sales of tusks…
Prof. Samuel K. Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington, said there is a clear link between one-off sales and the rise in poaching. He said the sales revive dormant markets by sending consumers the message that it is OK in general to once again buy ivory and makes it difficult to differentiate between legal and illegal products.
“This is a rare victory for elephants,” said Jason Bell-Leask, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Southern Africa…
It picked up support from the United States and some European nations, but the proposal was defeated mostly due to opposition from the 23-nation, African Elephant Coalition.
Ivory sales have in recent years been among the most contentious proposals at CITES and this time around African countries, and even some environmental groups, are divided. The ivory would be sold to China and Japan – the only countries which have asked to purchase it.
TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring group, tracks ivory seizures and found that poaching and smuggling to markets mostly in Asia has risen steadily since 2004. They blame weak law enforcement in Africa and growing demand for ivory products like chopsticks and ivory jewelry mostly in China, Thailand and other Asian countries.
The price of ivory on the black market has risen from about $200-a-kilo in 2004 to as much as $1,500 now.
Africa elephants have seen their numbers drop in the past 40 years by more than to 600,000 mostly due to poaching. A global ban on the ivory trade in 1989 briefly halted their slide. But conservationists said that poaching, especially in central Africa, now leads to the loss of as many as 60,000 elephants each year. Without intervention, the elephants could be nearly extinct by 2020.