by Mary Rice
The close of 2012 brought a glimmer of hope for the world’s elephants when Tanzania withdrew its proposal to reduce protection for its elephant population and sell its considerable stockpile of legal ivory through the CITES process.
But it was a brief respite. Three days into 2013, Hong Kong seized 779 elephant tusks—just over a tonne of ivory, the third large seizure there in as many months—bringing the total to around six tonnes. That’s at least 600 dead elephants.
Right now, the subject of ivory trading is on everyone’s lips: to trade or not to trade? There’s also a lot of talk about reducing demand by targeting consumers with awareness campaigns. But no one talks about targeting the individuals, governments, and vested interests that stimulate the trade.
- There are simply not enough elephants in the world to satisfy the growing demand, legal or otherwise, for ivory.
- China, where demand is skyrocketing, is taking steps to increase ivory-selling capacity, which will fuel even greater demand. China now advocates the sale of seized, as well as legal, stockpiles.
- In the period leading up to the late 1980s, when it was legal to trade ivory, African elephant numbers plummeted by almost two-thirds. The 1989 ivory trade ban was put in place because the trade system did not work.
- The 1989 ivory ban is effectively no longer in place, having been subverted by two “one-off” ivory sales approved by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES is currently considering adopting an all-out ivory trade system. More....