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Born Free urges world leaders to step up the pressure on ivory markets at CITES

22 September 2016

Categories: Homepage News, Elephants Campaign News, Wildlife Trade News

Today, on World Rhino Day, international wildlife charities, Born Free Foundation & Born Free USA, have called on world leaders to step up the pressure on ivory markets, as public and political pressure mounts.

The call follows UK Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom’s plans announced yesterday for a ban on sales of modern day ivory (less than 70 years old) in the UK, as well as a high-profile speech by HRH The Duke of Cambridge earlier today, in which he called for a tightening of the rules in trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn.

As representatives from 182 countries meet in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 24th September to discuss the future of many embattled species at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES*, high-profile conservationists and celebrities will deliver a letter to 10 Downing Street calling for an outright ban on all sales of ivory in the UK and to support this no trade stance worldwide.

Legendary actress and Born Free Foundation Co-Founder, Virginia McKenna OBE; Chef and TV personality, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall; Born Free Foundation Wildlife Consultant and leading gorilla and elephant conservationist, Ian Redmond OBE; and Journalist and Presenter, Nicky Campbell, will deliver the letter, which has been signed by wildlife NGOs including Born Free Foundation, as well as leading conservationists, wildlife experts and celebrities.

The letter will be delivered as part of the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, organised by Action for Elephants UK, in which hundreds of people are expected to take to the streets of London - and cities worldwide - to send a powerful, united message to delegates at CITES urging them to vote for the strongest measures of protection for elephants and rhinos. Disappointingly, the European Union has already announced that it will not be voting in favour of proposals for elephants.

The London march has been given the blessing of UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, who said: “The elephant is perhaps the single greatest glory of the animal kingdom. Mankind is privileged to share the planet with these magnificent and curious beasts. It is utterly heartbreaking that their numbers are falling so far and so fast. We must act – and that means an ivory ban, as we Conservatives promised in our manifesto at the last election. It is dismaying that the EU finds itself unable to unite on this question – and therefore unable to speak up properly in CITES. By taking back control of our conservation strategy we in Britain will once again be able to show a global lead.”

Virginia McKenna OBE, who will be speaking at the march, added: Two weeks ago I returned from Kenya and had the joy of seeing elephant families – and sometimes a solitary bull – in Meru National Park.  As they tranquilly browsed or walked through the bush, it reinforced my outrage that these wise, fascinating, social, caring animals could ever be valued by anyone only for the ivory ripped from their lifeless bodies.”

The most up-to-date survey of savannah elephants, ‘The Great Elephant Census’, was published earlier this month, revealing that there are now less than 400,000 savannah elephants, and that their numbers have plummeted by 30% over the past seven years. Poachers have killed more than 6,000 rhinos across Africa over the past decade and the rhino is being killed at a rate of three animals a day. Once common across much of what is now Africa, Eurasia and North America, today less than 30,000 rhino belonging to five species remain.

Born Free Foundation’s President and CEO, Will Travers OBE, speaking from Johannesburg, said: “Supporting Kenya, Ethiopia and nearly 20 other African nations in the effort to have all Africa’s elephants on Appendix I, thereby removing the possibility of future international commercial trade, is essential. Swaziland’s proposal for some trade in rhino horn should be blocked at all costs – this is no time to trade as the consequences are critical.”

The Global March for Elephants and Rhinos will start at 11am in Cavendish Square and will end at Whitehall around 1pm. The letter will be delivered to 10 Downing Street at around 2.30pm. Short speeches will be made by Virginia McKenna OBE, Nicky Campbell OBE, Ian Redmond OBE, as well as Born Free Foundation Policy Advisor Dominic Dyer, Environmentalist and Author Stanley Johnson, CEO of Elephant Family Ruth Powys, and Founder of Helping Rhinos Simon Jones.

*Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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