Ivory sales: Glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel

Dear Friends

After nearly 20 years working on elephant protection and fighting the ivory trade it seems that perhaps there is a glimmer of light – at least temporarily – at the end of this particular long tunnel.  African delegates, here at CITES, worked until 4 am this morning (Thursday 14th ) to hammer out a compromise which, although it would permit significant sales of already stockpiled ivory from four countries, would also establish a “resting period” of nine years or more when no further trade from those stockpiles could take place.

The acid-test of whether this compromise is going to deliver for elephants will be what impact it has on the most fragile elephant populations in Central and West Africa. 

Will these sales be seen as a green-light to organised crime and poachers or will the resting period deliver an era of stability, security and increased wildlife law enforcement?

Although the text of the compromise does potentially allow for countries that currently have their elephant populations on Appendix 1 to down list their population to Appendix 2 and submit proposals for trade within the resting period, I am hoping that such countries will respect the spirit of the decision taken today and resist any temptation to seek ivory trade in the next decade.

May be now, Born Free and other organisations, can get on with the work of assisting countries to protect their elephants to resolve conflict resolution and to secure elephant habitat into the future.  That’s what real conservation is all about.

Will

PS  Will, Ian, Winnie, Adam and Shelley (the Born Free team at CITES) would like to thank all the Born Free supporters, everyone who has read the blog and all real conservationists everywhere, for their support – it has been an exhausting three weeks but may be wildlife has won. 

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