Obama, Hollande and Elephants

1 Oct 2013

Since early September the United States announced that they would carry out on October 8 the destruction of 5.4 tonnes of illegal ivory confiscated over the last 25 years on their soil. This destruction is in line with an Executive Order by President Obama on July 1, 2013 on Combating Wildlife Trafficking. In this light the United States has launched a national and international programme aimed at stopping “slaughter commissioned by armed and organized criminal Syndicates.” This constitutes a formidable task.

France is not driven by the same strong motivation. On July 18, Robin des Bois sent an official request to the Minister of the Ecology asking that all the ivory stockpiles seized by French Customs and other authorities since the entering into force of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora –CITES– be destroyed. To this day the Minister has remained silent.

The French National Museum of Natural History refuses to communicate to Robin des Bois information on the seized ivory stockpiles which they possess and have confirmed in writing the public statement given by one of its representatives. In France, the stockpiles are used to carry out research on the characteristics of the tusks “with the aim to study their potential to identify elephant populations and to improve the traceability of seizures in the future”. In fact, as the Americans have understood, this kind of research can be carried out with ivory the size of a domino piece. There is no need to keep tons of ivory on shelves. The only positive reply to Robin des Bois’s letters was received from the Direction Générale des Douanes (General Direction of Customs). A compilation of the information presented by Customs adds up to 8 tonnes seized in France between 1998 and 2012. The weight of the confiscated ivory between 1975 – the year when CITES entered into force and the first inscription of elephant populations for protection– and 1998 is unknown or not well known.

Robin des Bois is sending out a new appeal to the Minister of Ecology and to the President of the Republic and is hoping that France replies to the United States’ call sounded out to all CITES Parties, asking them to destroy their own stocks and thus showing that the International Community acts as one to fight against poaching and the traffic of endangered species.

It is in the interest of biodiversity and humanity to save the elephants.

That a State stockpiles its ivory as it does with gold bars encourages financial speculation and suggests that one day this animal substance accumulated because of human greed and through illegal activities could find its way back on the market.




Imprimer cet article Imprimer cet article