Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

Elephants in danger as Ivory Trade creeps forward

Posted: 25 May 2005

14th October 2004: The decision at the CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Conference to allow a limited trade in ivory has been met with horror by Animal Defenders International (ADI).

Although an attempt by Namibia to secure an annual quota of 2,000 kg of raw ivory and an unlimited quantity of worked ivory jewellery was rejected earlier this week, the Conference of Parties to CITES has voted to allow a non-commercial trade in ornamental trinkets made from ivory known as ‘ekipas’.

Tim Phillips, ADI Campaigns Director, commented: “Despite the best efforts of countries such as Kenya, who bravely proposed a 20 year moratorium on ivory, the Conference of Parties to CITES voted in favour of Namibia’s motion. Amongst the abstentions were the 26 European Union votes – had the EU not looked the other way the proposal would have failed.

“In September, the European Parliament (EP) voted overwhelmingly in favour of a raft of measures for animal protection under CITES, including Kenya’s 20 year moratorium. And yet EU Ministers in attendance at CITES chose to ignore the opinions of the EP and abstained from voting on the Namibian issue.

“With each CITES conference the ivory trade is creeping forward, and every time the ivory trade appears to be legitimised, poaching and bloodshed resume. This is inevitable with the inordinately inflated price of ivory. As with high value illegal narcotics, the high bounty on these animals will always attract criminals willing to take risks for what is seen as quick money. Throughout Africa there is a proliferation of automatic weapons and with such large animals involved, the poachers come armed with automatic weapons and even rocket launchers. If there is an ivory trade then poachers and wildlife officers protecting elephants will die in gun battles. It is surely too high a price to pay for luxury trinkets.”

“Although elephant populations in Botswana, South Africa and Namibia may appear to be strong, the situation is very different elsewhere in Africa. For example, Senegal is thought to have wiped out its elephants, and less than 550 survive in Nigeria and the Ivory Coast. The ivory trade has an impact wherever there are elephants – the effects of this relaxation on trade in Namibia will be felt across Africa.”

-ENDS-

NOTES

1. CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is a 1973 agreement prohibiting or restricting the international trade in species of animals and plants threatened with extinction. Currently 166 countries are signatories to CITES. The CITES lists, known as Appendices I, II, and III, are revised every two-and-a-half years. Roughly 5,000 species of animals and 28,000 species of plants are protected by CITES.

- Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances - e.g. scientific research.

- Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival.

- Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES members for assistance in controlling the trade.

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