CITES Standing Committee Day 1 – will China be approved as an ivory trading partner tomorrow?

Dear Friends

Geneva – 14th July 2008 – 57th Standing Committee to CITES*

Once more elephants are top of the bill:  will China get to bid for 110 tonnes of ivory? 

A highly critical report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a member of the Species Survival Network (SSN) ( indicates that any move to approve ivory trade with China is dangerously premature.

  • Ivory sales continue apace in Chinese shops
  • Illegal shipments are being sent to China
  • Chinese nationals based in Africa are implicated in illegal activities involving ivory
  • The whereabouts of over 100 tonnes of ivory from the Chinese stockpile that allegedly went missing in the decade up to 2002 remain unknown.
  • Such surveys that have taken place looking at the effectiveness of domestic law enforcement measures in China appear to be limited in nature.

Born Free Foundation (BFF) and SSN member organisations remain deeply concerned about the current situation which could see a bidding war break out between Japan (already an approved trading partner) and China (seeking approval) that could drive up the price of ivory, increase the incentive to trade and quite possibly accelerate poaching which would in all likelihood hit the most vulnerable elephant populations hardest. 

The elephant debate and decision is set to take place on Tuesday 15th July during the afternoon session.  Right now, I fear the wrong decision will be made: bureaucrats with little experience of what can actually happen on the ground, little understanding of the poaching phenomenon and little appreciation of the enormous challenges faced by elephant conservation authorities across much of Africa and throughout Asia and who are unelected and unrepresentative, will make the fateful decision.

May it be a wise one.

For many millions of people around the world are watching and elephants’ lives depend on it.

Blogging off,


*Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

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