Fighting the ivory trade is a constant challenge as those who wish to sell ‘white gold’ put elephants under further pressure. Born Free’s support for anti-poaching continues in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, not only against well-armed poachers, but to hold back the tide of deadly wire snares indiscriminately wiping out wild animals in their hundreds of thousands.
Every year, thousands of elephants are brutally killed for their ivory. Some estimate that as many as 8% (36,000) elephants are being poached each year. The slaughter is horrifying, poachers shoot elephants with automatic weapons and hack off their tusks with axes and even chainsaws. Tragically the ivory trade has a long and bloody history. Born Free helped ensure the first international ivory ban in 1989 and since then has campaigned against attempts to reopen trade. Born Free investigates poaching, exposes illegal ivory smuggling and together with the SSN¹ Elephant Working Group publishes major reports on the extent of the trade.
Last century: elephant populations declined massively due to the legal ivory trade, together with habitat destruction and increased agricultural production.
1979-89: uncontrolled ivory poaching from 1979 to 1989 halved Africa’s elephant population from 1.3 million to 600,000.
1989: Born Free helped encourage CITES² to ban the ivory trade. The price of ivory crashed and markets in Europe and USA closed. But a handful of African countries wanted to resume trade.
1997: despite Born Free’s best efforts, CITES approved the sale of 40 tonnes of ivory from Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe to Japan. Born Free predicted that poaching would continue (see next panel).
1998-99: at least 6,000 elephants were killed and 17,000kg of ivory seized by customs. Born Free estimated this represented just 10-20% of the total slaughter and campaigned to ban the global ivory trade once more.
2000: CITES agreed ‘no more trade’ despite pressure from four southern African countries to sell more ivory to Japan. Born Free publishes the Stop the Clock report.
2002: Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa received permission to sell 60 tonnes of ivory stockpiles. Since 1998 Born Free and SSN estimate at least 90,000kg of illegal ivory has been confiscated by customs, ie 13,000 elephants slaughtered by poachers. And this is just the ‘Tip of the Tusk’, the small visible part of the global ivory racket.
2004: to Born Free’s dismay, CITES approved Namibia’s proposal for ‘non-commercial’ (tourist) trade in worked ‘ekipas’ (cultural ivory carvings). Born Free publishes The Tip of the Tusk report.Followed by two further updates in 2006 and 2007
2007: The stockpile sales approved in 2002 are expanded from 60 tonnes to 110 tonnes. Additionally, the African elephant range States agree to implement a 9 year moratorium on elephant discussions at CITES.
2009: Tanzania and Zambia submit proposals seeking to exploit a loophole in the 2007 moratorium agreement. They are seeking to downlist their elephant populations to Appendix II, and to trade in over 110 tonnes of ivory.
2010: Born Free plays a key role in successfully defeating Zambia and Tanzania’s proposals to reduce protection for their elephant populations and sell ivory at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES. More here: http://www.bornfree.org.uk/campaigns/elephants/news/article/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=486
For more information, log onto www.bloodivory.org
CITES is a UN convention which seeks to prevent endangered or threatened species of animals and plants being devastated by unregulated international trade. CITES meets every 3 years to debate trade Proposals put forward by 175 member Parties (countries). CITES places ‘at risk’ species in two main categories: Appendix II monitors and regulates trade; Appendix I imposes a commercial trade ban. Born Free, as part of SSN, helps ensure delegates have the information they need to make the right decisions, and fights to uphold the highest possible levels of protection. Born Free battles against those determined to exploit, hunt, kill and trade wildlife. This includes countless wealthy ‘pro-trade’ organizations.
SSN is a coalition of 80 wildlife protection organisations working within CITES to reduce the impact of international trade on wild animals and plants. Born Free helped to establish SSN in 1993 and Will Travers is currently chair of the Board and President of the Network. SSN investigates and exposes illegal trade in wild animals and wildlife products.