The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has pleased conservationists with its decision to not allow the one-off sales of ivory from government stockpiles in Tanzania and Zambia given the recent rise in elephants poaching in Africa.
“It’s victory for conservationists world wide as CITES today voted no the proposal presented by Tanzania to weaken the 21-year ban on ivory sales. Many countries do not think that Tanzania can manage to sell ivory without it leading to a dramatic upsurge in elephant killings, after all, the country has been unable to control illicit trade in ivory and elephant poaching,” Executive Director of WildlifeDirect Paula Kahumbu wrote in a blog on the decision.
While the ivory trade has been banned since 1989, two one-time sales have gone ahead in the past: 1999 and 2008. Many conservationists believe that these past sales led to increasing demand for ivory products—illegal or not—causing an uptick in poaching.
Last year, 25 tons of illegal ivory was confiscated from an estimated 2,500 elephants, according to TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring group. Tanzania had hoped to sell 80.5 tons of ivory and Zambia 21 tons.
The decision comes after a number of disappointments for conservationists at the CITES meeting, including striking down monitoring of the coral trade and a vote against a ban on the Critically Endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna. The latter decision caused marine biologist Jennifer Jacquet to describe it as “another failure to see fish as wildlife” in her blog Guilty Planet. She notes that less than 5 percent of the species protected by CITES are marine species.
(03/21/2010) After denying protection to polar bears, sharks, and the Critically Endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has today voted against additional protections for harvested coral species, according to TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring group. The joint US and EU measure would have put in place scientific and trade monitoring of over thirty species of red and pink coral in the Mediterranean and western Pacific.
(03/18/2010) A proposal to totally ban the trade in the Critically Endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna failed at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), surprising many who saw positive signs leading up to the meeting of a successful ban.
(10/20/2009) Nearly twenty years ago the ivory trade was banned by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Many saw this as the most important step in preventing the continued loss of elephants at the hands of poachers, and for awhile poaching slowed down. But now elephants are in danger again: a report by the International Fund for Wildlife Welfare (IFWW) states that an astounding 38,000 elephants are killed for their tusks annually—over a hundred every day.
(04/29/2009) On April 25th two men were pursued by wildlife rangers from the Amboseli-Tsavo Game Scouts Association in Tanzania. The men escaped across the border to southern Kenya where they were caught by police, who had been tipped off by the wildlife scouts. The two men’s SUV contained 1,550 lbs (703 kilograms) of elephant tusks, representing a total of up to forty individuals according to the Kenyan Wildlife Service. This is considered the largest seizure in the region since the ivory smuggling boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The ivory is estimated at a value of $750,000 (or 60 million Kenyan shillings).
(04/09/2009) A new study finds that forest elephants may be responsible for planting more trees in the Congo than any other species or ghenus. Conducting a thorough survey of seed dispersal by forest elephants, Dr. Stephen Blake, formerly of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and now of the Mac Planck Institute for Ornithology, and his team found that forest elephants consume more than 96 species of plant seeds and can carry the seeds as far as 57 kilometers (35 miles) from their parent tree. Forest elephants are a subspecies of the more-widely known African elephant of the continent’s great savannas, differing in many ways from their savanna-relations, including in their diet.