Elephants on the Agenda

(c) LAGAPredictably, elephant debates took up almost a full day of the Standing Committee’s time yesterday. Elephants remain a deeply divisive issue at CITES, and yesterday’s ejection of NGO’s from the morning session clearly reflected this (see yesterday’s blog).

A multitude of important elephant issues were under discussion, including alarming and increasing trends in levels of illegal killing of elephants. The CITES programme that monitors elephant poaching, known as MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants), highlighted increasing poaching trends across Central, Eastern and Southern Africa.

In light of serious levels of poaching, illegal trade and other threats facing elephants across Africa, the importance of implementing the African Elephant Action Plan (AEAP) was clear to all attending the Standing Committee. The AEAP is a comprehensive document, compiled and approved by all African Elephant range States, which identifies all the activities required to protect elephants across their range. Countries called for donor support to the African Elephant Fund – the funding mechanism for the AEAP – so that priority activities (such as increasing wildlife law enforcement efforts to reduce illegal trafficking of ivory) could take place as a matter of urgency. There were also calls for Asia to develop and adopt its own Asian Elephant Action Plan.

Asian demand for ivory was also a hot topic for the Standing Committee. Large ivory markets in Thailand were highlighted as a matter of concern, and a deadline was set for the passing of new legislation in Thailand which would tighten up its domestic ivory trade controls.

The Standing Committee also approved a consultation process regarding the establishment of a decision-making mechanism for trade in legal ivory (effectively a list of conditions that would be required before a country could be approved to trade in ivory). The Born Free Foundation continues to strongly oppose the establishment of such a decision-making mechanism. We believe that legal trade could further increase the already insatiable demand for ivory, and lead to further illegal killing of elephants. Many fragile elephant populations simply cannot take any more pressure, and Born Free will continue to lobby against any legal trade in ivory!

See www.bloodyivory.org

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