Wednesday, 25 July 2012

UK House of Lords debate elephant poaching


Lords debate on elephant poaching 
July 2012. The House of Lords in the UK recently held a brief discussion on the current disgrace that is elephant poaching in Africa. Although not known for their instant actions, the fact that The Lords have actually talked aboutthe issue must be a good sign, even if only a small one.
The discussion, as listed in Hansard, was as follows.

ELEPHANT POACHING

Asked by Lord St John of Bletso
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures to address the increase in elephant poaching and the illegal sale of ivory to the Far East they plan to support at the Standing Committee meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species on 23 July.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): My Lords, as a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the UK is supportive of CITES's increasing focus on enforcement and work to reduce elephant poaching and the illegal trade in ivory. Defra officials are working with the European Commission and other member states to agree a common position to be taken in preparing for, and negotiating at, the CITES meeting in three weeks' time.
Lord St John of Bletso: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his reply but is he aware that a recent analysis, commissioned by CITES, indicates that as many as 12% of Africa's elephants were poached last year in order to satisfy the burgeoning demand for ivory, particularly from Asia? Based on this analysis and the 2007 estimates of the continent's elephant population, in excess of 35,000 elephants may have been killed last year. Can the Minister provide assurances that the British Government will use their influence to ensure that the European Union will reject any proposals for further ivory sales, including stockpiles, and the down-listing of the elephant population?
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Yes, I can give the noble Lord that assurance. We certainly cannot be confident that smuggling and the poaching of ivory are currently under control. The Government take very seriously
4 July 2012 : Column 683
the threat to elephants and other wildlife from smuggling and the international trafficking of wildlife products. Richard Benyon, the Minister responsible, announced last year that the illegal trade under CITES, in particular the trade in elephant ivory, is a UK wildlife crime priority for the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

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