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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tragic News for Elephants

Aerial photo taken by the Wildlife Conservation Society of elephants
slaughtered for their ivory in Zakouma National Park. From
From Africa Geographic

The CITES Secretariat today recommended that Tanzania’s elephant and ivory proposal be rejected, citing concerns about poaching and enforcement. However, in a disappointing evaluation of the Panel of Experts reports, the Secretariat recommended supporting the Zambian ivory-trade proposal, and also supports the downlisting of elephants to Appendix II.

“Parties need to apply their own rigorous evaluations of the Panel of Experts reports as neither proposal meets the biological criteria for downlisting,” said Jason Bell-Leask, Director IFAW Southern Africa. “Both populations have suffered significant declines over the past three decades and there is evidence to suggest that these populations are still recovering from intensive poaching in the 1980’s.”

Tanzania and Zambia have submitted proposals seeking permission for a one-off sale of 112 tons of ivory. These two countries hoped to open the door for future ivory trade by ‘down-listing’ their elephant populations, which would mean that these elephants will losse the highest levels of protection. At the last CITES conference in 2007, Parties agreed to a nine-year moratorium on any further trade in ivory.

“IFAW is calling for all Parties to respect the moratorium – downlisting is simply a pre-cursor to trade and should not be considered in light of the massive escalation of seizures of illegal ivory and poaching we have seen since the last CoP,” said Bell-Leask.

The African Elephant Coalition of 23 African elephant range countries oppose the proposals for the downlistings and one-off sales, insisting that the nine-year resting period provides all African range states the opportunity to cooperatively secure elephants in their habitat.

From WWF (
New analysis points to ivory enforcement failures in parts of Africa, Asia

Doha, Qatar – Urgent law enforcement action by governments in Central and West Africa and South-east Asia is crucial to addressing the illicit ivory trade, according to a new analysis of elephant trade data. Detailed regional summaries of the data held in the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), the world’s largest database on ivory seizures, highlight the failure of law enforcement in key elephant range States facing an increasing threat from organised crime and the presence of unregulated markets.

The re-analysis comes as 175 governments meet in Qatar for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), where they will consider ivory trade issues. "It's clearer than ever that governance shortfalls and weak enforcement allow illicit ivory trade to go unchecked in West and Central Africa and in South-East Asia, where large domestic ivory markets openly sell ivory illegally," said Tom Milliken of TRAFFIC, who undertook the ETIS analysis. "What's needed is urgent action by government enforcement agencies in these regions and strong collaboration with counterparts in Asia where many of the current seizures are being made." “If there was adequate political will, a commitment to law enforcement would shut down the illegal markets and check corruption. That isn’t happening.” Milliken said. ETIS is compiled by TRAFFIC on behalf of CITES, and comprises more than 15,400 ivory seizure cases compiled over the last 21 years.

The re-analysis of the data was made by region rather than by country, and was carried out to align the data with MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants), another of the CITES tools used to monitor poaching, which also shows that the Central African region is losing the most elephants. "Until this strengthened law enforcement happens, ivory will continue to leak out of Africa” said Elisabeth McLellan, Species Manager, WWF International. "We're not talking small-time smugglers here, we're talking hardened, organized criminal gangs," McLellan said.

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