Tuesday 6 May 2014

South Africa claims elephants are safe because of ivory auctions

Posted by: Colin Bell / posted on May 5th, 2014

Addressing a crowd at a ceremony to sign an anti-poaching agreement between South Africa and Mozambique in the Kruger National Park this April, Edna Molewa, South Africa’s Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, mentioned in a speech signifying her departments move toward a possible trade in rhino horn, that “we do think that it could (win the war on rhino poaching)… just taking it from the lessons we have learnt from ivory. We did an ivory once-off sale and elephant poaching has not been a problem since.”

Despite widespread international investigations proving the opposite (it is widely held that the once-off sale of a large stockpile of ivory by Southern Africa to China and Japan in 2008 fuelled the demand for ivory and increased poaching), it appears the numerous reports, articles, videos and papers investigating the failures of the 2008 ivory sale, which are published widely and available across the internet, have not have reached the desk of South Africa’s Environmental Affairs minister.

Evidence of escalating elephant poaching numbers in Africa since the 2008 sale are available in a CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) report titled Elephants in The Dust, The African Elephant Crisis. Contrary to Minister Molewa’s beliefs, large-scale seizures of ivory (consignments of over 800 kg) destined for Asia have more than doubled since 2009. It is estimated that upwards of 30,000 elephants were illegally killed last year alone. This is a significant increase from the estimated 22 000 elephants that were killed in 2012, according to MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants).

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