African nations urged to end all trade in elephant ivory
Juergen T Steinmetz, eTurbo News
November 28, 2017
European and American conservation leaders today called on governments
worldwide to support requests from African nations and end all trade in
elephant ivory to safeguard the future of elephants.
Ivory trade is a major topic on the agenda at the 69th meeting of the
Standing Committee of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in Geneva, where more than 600
country delegates and observers have gathered this week.
The organizations are supporting a proposal submitted by Burkina Faso,
Congo, Kenya, and Niger on behalf of the 29 member countries of the African
Elephant Coalition which highlights the European Union and Japan as playing
an active role in the ivory trade.
This is the first meeting of the Standing Committee since the 17th
Conference of the Parties to CITES in September 2016 where Parties agreed a
ground-breaking recommendation that all domestic ivory markets that are
?contributing to poaching or illegal trade? should be closed ?as a matter
of urgency? [Resolution Conf. 10.10 (Rev. CoP17) on Trade in Elephant
Domestic ivory markets provide a cover for illegal trade, enabling the
laundering of poached ivory and ivory allegedly imported before the
international trade ban came into effect in 1990 (so-called ?old? ivory).
They therefore play a significant role in perpetuating the global trade.
?Legal ivory markets in Asia and Europe fuel demand and provide ample
opportunities for laundering poached ivory. There is evidence of ivory
trafficking in these markets which inevitably contributes to illegal trade
and poaching and they must be closed,? says Daniela Freyer of Pro Wildlife.
More than 20.000 elephants are slaughtered in Africa every year for their
?The CITES recommendation to close domestic ivory markets was a
breakthrough, but it will be meaningless if major players are allowed to
ignore it,? says Dr Rosalind Reeve, Senior Adviser to the David Shepherd
Wildlife Foundation and Fondation Franz Weber.
Pressure to ban ivory builds up as EU and UK launch separate consultation
The EU has been the largest global exporter of legal ivory into
international markets in recent years, with a dramatic rise in raw and
worked ivory re-exports from the EU in 2014 and 2015. EU Member States
reported exports of 1,258 tusks, and more than 20,000 other ivory items in
those two years alone.
The largest customer for EU ivory in the past was China, which alongside
other Asian destinations has been driving the elephant poaching crisis.
The EU is also an increasingly important transit route for illegal ivory,
as shown by record large-scale seizures in 2016, which are an indicator for
While increasing criticism of the EU?s ivory trade led it to suspend
exports of raw ivory in July, within the EU trade in all sorts of ivory
remains legal ? and export of worked ivory products continues as well.
The European Commission is under pressure to drastically tighten up on the
EU ivory trade and recently launched a public consultation.
It calls on citizens, organisations and other stakeholders to participate
in an online survey to gather information and views on ivory trade in the
EU and the actions that the EU should take against ivory trafficking. The
deadline for submitting responses is 8 December.
?The EU now needs to respond to requests from the elephant range states in
Africa and ban the ivory trade once and for all. Nothing less will do to
save elephants,? says Vera Weber, President of Fondation Franz Weber.
The UK government announced its proposal to ban ivory trade on 6 October,
although it includes some limited exemptions. A public consultation there
is also currently underway and will conclude on 29 December.
?The UK and France were the largest global consumers of ivory in the
colonial period. Public pressure has forced them to take major steps
towards banning the ivory trade, and this can set the right example for the
whole of Europe,? said Karen Botha, Chief Executive of David Shepherd
Japan?s ivory trade is booming
China has announced it will shut down its ivory trade by the end of 2017,
which, if properly enforced, would essentially close the world?s largest
market for poached ivory. Japan, however, continues to have a significant,
very active domestic ivory market and little progress has been made towards
Japan argues that its domestic market does not contain illegal ivory and
that the CITES recommendation on closure of domestic markets does not apply
to it. However, investigations clearly show there are illegal activities,
and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, has expressed its
concerns over the laxity of Japan?s system of registration of ivory
businesses and over the lack of regulation for products other than whole
?It is baffling that the Japanese authorities continue to believe that
their domestic ivory markets are not connected to the illegal trade when
evidence suggests otherwise. The closure of Japan?s domestic ivory market
is essential to ensure that its ivory does not leak to neighboring China,
thus undermining Chinese efforts to enforce its domestic ivory ban. CITES
must not allow this to continue,? said Iris Ho of Humane Society
Reports from various organisations document that Japan?s legislation
continues to be filled with loopholes and that it is responsible for
leaking substantial quantities of ivory to other markets such as China.
Most recently, on 22 November, the Japanese Ministry of Environment stated
that there were more than 100 cases in which customs officials in China
seized ivory exported from Japan.
In view of these on-going concerns about Japan?s domestic market, the AEC
proposal also asks the CITES Standing Committee to request that Japan
develops a National Ivory Action Plan ? a practical tool that outlines the
urgent measures a country commits to deliver, including legislative,
enforcement, and public awareness actions, with specified time frames and
milestones for implementation.
# # #
? The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of
Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was established in 1973, entered into force in
1975, and accords varying degrees of protection and regulation of
international trade to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants.
Currently 183 countries are Parties to the Convention.
? All populations of African elephants were listed on CITES
Appendix I in 1989, effectively banning international ivory trade.But the
protection was weakened in 1997 and 2000 when populations in four countries
(Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe) were down-listed to Appendix
II (a less endangered status) to allow two sales of ivory stockpiles to
Japan and China in 1999 and 2008.
? Fondation Franz Weber (FFW), based in Switzerland, has been
campaigning for the survival of the African elephant and the complete ban
of the trade in ivory for 40 years. FFW has had observer status at CITES
since 1989 and has been a partner of the African Elephant Coalition since
its creation in 2008.
? David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), based in the UK, is an
adaptable and flexible organization responding promptly to conservation
threats by supporting trusted, reputable individuals and organizations
operating in the field. Lean on administration but generous on funding,
DSWF supports a range of innovative and vital projects throughout Africa
? Pro Wildlife (PW), based in Germany, is committed to protecting
wildlife and works to ensure the survival of species in their habitat, as
well as the protection of individual animals. This includes advocacy,
strengthening national and international regulations and ensuring their
? Humane Society International and its partners together constitute
one of the world?s largest animal protection organizations. For more than
25 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals using
science, advocacy, education, and hands on programs.
? The African Elephant Coalitionwas established in 2008 in Bamako,
Mali. Its 29 member countries from are united by a common goal: ?a viable
and healthy elephant population free of threats from international ivory
trade.? They include: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central
African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic
of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea,
Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger,
Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Togo and Uganda.