CITES has no cure for elephant poaching

14 Mar 2013

Microsoft Word - Press Release CITES HAS NO CURE FOR ELEPHANT PO

Compromise and Rhetoric is killing world’s elephants

Despite the praise for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora on its 40th anniversary, CITES has failed to protect the elephant. African elephant populations are under siege and in decline primarily to satiate the demand for ivory in Asia. In 2011 alone, around 25,000 elephants or more were slaughtered for their ivory and the killing was even worse in 2012.

Enough is enough. Several conservation and animal welfare organizations, including the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF-United Kingdom), Elephant Advocacy League (United States), Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA-United Kingdom), Fondation Franz Weber (FFW-Switzerland), International Ranger Federation (Australia), Last Great Ape Organization (LAGA-Cameroon), Pro Wildlife (Germany), Robin des Bois (France), Youth for Conservation (Kenya) attending the 16th meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties are outraged by the failure of CITES to stop the poaching of African elephants, particularly African elephants. Instead of demanding an end to the markets driving the slaughter, CITES Parties are coming up with weak compromises in a feeble attempt to stop the poaching. But China, the single country most responsible for the crisis due to its burgeoning ivory market, won’t even concede its responsibility as the main problem. Nor will CITES admit that previous decisions allowing “legal” sale of ivory to China and Japan have stimulated, not reduced, demand and directly contributed to the poaching.

The only way to stop the killing and to save the world’s elephants for future generations is an immediate, comprehensive, and indefinite ban on international and domestic ivory trade. One-off sales, monitoring poaching, reporting requirements, missions to inspect schemes to regulate ivory markets – none of it has worked to end the slaughter of these African giants. Indeed, one-off sales and discussions of a “decision-making mechanism” to permit “legal” ivory trade have only served to stimulate demand and escalate the crisis.

“CITES is sticking band-aids on with one hand and fueling poaching with the other. Its failure to combat the fundamental driver of the killing amounts to gross international negligence,” states Dr. Rosalind Reeve of DSWF. “Elephants are the symbol of CITES. They are the heart of the convention. But that heart is dying a slow and painful death.” adds Reeve.

“Evidence is irrefutable that China bears the main responsibility for the elephant poaching crisis yet it continues to hide behind a facade of denial,” claims Steve Itela, Director of Youth for Conservation. “China could end the killing by immediately closing its domestic ivory markets and severely punishing citizens engaged in illegal ivory trade. But it chooses ivory trinkets for a luxury market over live elephants,” adds Itela.

“Any further discussion of legalizing ivory trade is a recipe for extinction,” states Charlotte Nithart, Director of Robin des Bois. “Just as the legal trade in cigarettes, medicines, and weapons has not stopped them being smuggled, the legal trade in ivory has not stopped the slaughter of elephants and smuggling of their ivory,” adds Nithart.

“Any discussions on legalizing trade in wildlife products – be it ivory, rhino horns, or tiger parts – accomplishes only one thing, which is stimulating demand,” explains Mary Rice, Executive Director of EIA. Such rhetoric must cease immediately if we are to reverse the trend toward extinction of these and other species,” adds Rice. EIA recently initiated a campaign to stop stimulating trade demand in wildlife and wildlife products.

“We can’t ignore that elephant poaching also spills human blood and is responsible for the deaths of dozens of rangers annually who make the ultimate sacrifice to protect Africa’s elephants,” notes Sean Willmore, Director of the Thin Green Line Foundation and President of the International Ranger Federation. “It is reprehensible that CITES Parties continue to act without urgency to address this crisis given the adverse impacts on governments, communities, and families of rangers,” adds Willmore

“While CITES Parties continue to fail to stop the elephant carnage, ultimately it is the citizens in China, Thailand, Vietnam, or anywhere else in the world, who have the power to stop elephant poaching,” states Dr. Sandra Altherr, Project Director, Pro Wildlife. “By simply saying no to any ivory products they are saying no to elephant poaching, corruption, terrorism, and the murder of wildlife law enforcement officers,” adds Dr. Altherr.





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