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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sign the Petition to ban the sale and trade in Ivory


In 1979 there were an estimated 1.3 million African elephants. A decade later, widespread poaching had reduced that figure by half. Just 600,000 African elephants remained.

Africa’s savannahs and forests were no longer sanctuaries for elephants; they had been turned into graveyards.

In 1989, a worldwide ban on ivory trade was approved by CITES. Levels of poaching fell dramatically, and black-market prices of ivory slumped.

CITES had saved the African elephant. Or had it?

Since 1997, there have been sustained attempts by certain countries to overturn the ban. In 1999, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe were allowed an ‘experimental one-off sale’ of 49,437kg of ivory to Japan. Then in 2002, a further one off-sale was approved, which finally took place in 2008 – and resulted in 105,000kg of ivory being shipped to China and Japan.

Today, levels of poaching and illegal trade are spiralling out of control once again. In many areas, rates of poaching are now the worst they have been since 1989. In 2009, over 20,000kg of ivory was seized and countries have started to report localised extinctions of very vulnerable elephant populations.

Despite this, in March 2010, Tanzania and Zambia will be asking to reduce the level of protection their elephants afforded by CITES (by downlisting their elephant populations from Appendix I, which bans commercial trade, to Appendix II, which allows regulated trade subject to certain conditions). They are also seeking approval for a one-off sale of over 110,000kg of ivory.

The Tanzania and Zambia Proposals are in direct contravention of the spirit a nine-year moratorium on ivory trade, agreed by all range States in 2007. The final wording of this moratorium unfortunately has a loophole which is now being exploited by Tanzania and Zambia.

If these proposals are approved, many fear for the future survival of many of Africa’s more fragile elephant populations that simply cannot withstand any more pressure. For Sierra Leone’s elephants it is already too late – the Government of Sierra Leone announced at the end of 2009 that it feared its last few elephants had been lost to poachers.

The African Elephant Coalition is formed of 23-African elephant range States (the majority of countries with wild African elephants) who are strongly opposing the Tanzanian and Zambian Proposals. They are instead calling on the international community to support a proposal by Ghana, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Mali, Kenya, Liberia and Sierra Leone to close the loophole in the moratorium, and extend it to twenty years. They believe that only resolute action of this kind can increase the security for Africa’s beleaguered elephants.

This website is intended to be a central portal of information about ivory trade, elephant poaching and the impact of CITES decisions on Africa’s elephants.

It provides those without a voice to join in the battle to protect elephants across Africa. They urgently need your support. Don’t delay – take action today!


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