Thursday, 11 August 2016

The EU is right to oppose a global ivory ban

Controversial proposals ahead of this year’s global wildlife trade summit threaten to fuel a divisive debate and divert attention away from the real measures needed to tackle the illegal ivory trade

Colman O’Criodain
Tuesday 9 August 201614.17 BSTLast modified on Tuesday 9 August 201614.58 BST

Anyone paying even cursory attention to wildlife stories in recent years would have heard all about Africa’s elephant poaching crisis. And with good reason. An estimated 30,000 animals are being killed for their ivory every year, a shockingly high figure that threatens the survival of central Africa’s forest elephants as well as some elephant populations in east Africa.

They also would have read about the international community’s response to the poaching crisis, with governments around the globe promising action and conservation organisations scaling up efforts to tackle elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade.

And it has made a difference, with poaching down from its 2011 peak. But the killing goes on – fuelled by demand in Asia and increasingly driven byinternational organised crime.

So it is understandable that a raft of elephant and ivory trade proposals have been put forward for debate at this year’s global wildlife trade conference in South Africa.

Three of them have attracted a disproportionate amount of media coverage: the call by a group of African countries for a formal global ban on ivory trade by listing all elephant populations in Appendix I under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), and counter-proposals by Namibia and Zimbabwe to allow them to resume ivory trading.

These proposals to trade or not to trade seem at first glance to go to the very heart of how to stop the poaching. But it is important to remember that a de facto international ivory trade ban already exists and moving all populations to Appendix I would not change this. And it is definitely not the time to contemplate even a partial resumption in the trade.

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