Take the ‘trade’ out of the ivory trade

Dear Friends of Wildlife,

What are we to make of the recent sale of nearly 1 tonne of African ivory tusks at an auction in Cannes in the South of France, all of which were purchased by Chinese buyers for the Chinese market?

To be clear, this sale was legal in as much as the tusks were all certified as being ‘pre-Convention’.  In other words, they were legally acquired before the African elephant was listed on the Appendices of CITES (1976).

However, just because it is legal doesn’t make it right.  Without question, in my view, any commercial sales of ivory – pre-Convention or antique – continue to stimulate a rapacious demand that cannot be met through legal sales and so is fuelled through illegal poached ivory and the bloody slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants each year across Africa.

We have to grow up.  We have to be more responsible.  Simply offering a donation of 5,000 Euros from the commission on the recent sale to an unspecified anti-poaching organisation (as the auctioneers proudly proclaimed) does nothing for me and, more importantly, will do little for elephants compared to the damage that has been done by having the sale in the first place.

At the recent CITES Standing Committee meeting in Geneva, even the Chinese delegation expressed concern about sales of pre-Convention ivory.  No, they did not go as far as to suggest that such sales should be prohibited but they did acknowledge the rapidly growing volume of pre-Convention ivory reaching China and I think the sub-text is that we are now all aware of the implications such sales have for Africa’s remaining elephants.

We need a four-point action plan:

1. Destroy or put beyond commercial use ivory stocks – legal or illegal.

2. Dramatically increase our support for rangers and wildlife law enforcement officers in elephant range States through the African Elephant Action Plan.

3. Close domestic markets so there is total clarity that all ivory on sale is illegal.

4. If there are carvings that  internationally-recognised art historians agree should be kept for historic or artistic purposes then they should be displayed in museums to act as a warning and help tell the story of the elephant tragedy that has unfolded over the last 50 years on our watch.

Without such a plan we shall simply see an ongoing decline in elephant numbers, extinction in numerous countries and all for what …

Blogging off.


13 Responses to “Take the ‘trade’ out of the ivory trade”

  1. Bonnie Lewenza Says:

    These gentle giants are of no harm to anyone, they do not deserve to die for their tusk’s and the most certainly do not deserve to die for China and their irresponsible greed. It takes 3 long years for an elephant to produce one, yet they are being killed at a much larger rate then this. It should send out a message to the ignorance of the people of China but it don’t because they have no conscience. My anger over this contemptuous act angers me to ridiculous levels. Nothing can remain unpunished for all the unbalances of nature as it has been recorded into the memory of the soul of the world. These wretched acts against the elephants and all wild animals needs to stop immediately. It is disheartening and revolting.

  2. Janet berg Says:

    Just leave all animals in peace and quiet.

  3. Tessa Hayward Says:

    When your child asks mum whats an elephant
    What will you reply!!!!?

  4. Wendy Says:

    I agree 100% with the statement “Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right”; it also doesn’t make it ethical (much like trophy hunting in my opinion). This seems such a step backwards and I find it appalling. (That ALL the pieces were bought by Chinese buyers isn’t overly surprising but disheartening that clearly all the awareness campaigns haven’t made a whole lot of difference.) In 50 years, when the last elephant has drawn its breath, what value in those ivory trinkets then?
    A sorry state of affairs and the fight to save them is a battle I fear we’re on the brink of losing. Keep fighting the good fight, Mr Travers, there are a lot of folks in this with you.

  5. Luke Berman Says:

    Brilliant as ever Will. Having lived in Africa where these beautiful giants roam is really saddens me to think that people are hunting them down for their tusks. I recently walked alongside many people including Jim Nyamu who is famous for walking for elephants. This is just one of many other cheap and simple measures that we can all do to raise awareness and demand action. The recent death of Satao in Kenya was so upsetting and highlights the importance of the work that needs to be done.

  6. OMANA Says:

    this is unfair to the animals…………these guys shd be killed for that

  7. Nikki Robinson Says:

    Shame on France and shame on China! As you rightly say “Just because it is legal doesn’t make it right”. Nothing short of a total and permanent worldwide ban on ivory, rhino horn etc otherwise these beautiful gentle creatures do not stand a chance x

  8. Miss CDB Says:

    You are right. We have covered the issue of Mammoth ivory before in Eluxe magazine, and the as yet untapped stores of vast amounts of mammoth ivory are just making the problem worse. Having these products on the market removes any stigma of ownership and only increases demand. Your suggestions are perfect–but to whom do we put those forth and how can we pressure governments to accept them?

    Sadly, here in France (where I live), many things that are considered anti-social in most of the civilised world (smoking, infidelity, animal abuse) are still widely accepted here.

  9. Sally Rodd Says:

    Very well written, Will.

    Just because it’s pre-Convention doesn’t make it right at all..It’s still “feeding” the market, especially China, where such status symbols are revered above the suffering of the animal involved. The 4 point action plan is the way, along with massive education/media plans – with graphic footage – delivered in Asian countries to teach people just how their vanity item has been procured.

  10. Angela B Says:

    What would happen if someone started killing wild Pandas for their fur? I’d like to see the Chinese Governments’reaction to that!
    Just because the killing doesn’t happen in your own country doesn’t mean it can be dismissed so lightly.
    What will 5,000 Euros do? Nothing. We need 5 billion Euros to stop this barbaric, cruel and disgusting trade.

  11. Gill Gilbey Says:

    Surely China could easily stop the ivory trade,if they wanted to.

  12. Catharine patha Says:

    Please keep up the good fight. This is important.

  13. Lady Elizabeth Tullos Says:

    I completely agree. The actions that are being taken are only a pat on the back for the good old guys so they can say they did something. The killing of elephants for their tusks is bad enough. But the poachers don’t stop there, they kill all the elephants including pregnant females, and babies.

    Any ideas for implementing your plan?