By Kenya Confidential Harmony with Nature Editor, Nairobi – August 12, 2016
Kenya will put her case of banning ivory during the 17th CITES meeting from September 24 to October 5 in Johannesburg, South Africa
In a bid to stop the killing to extinction of elephants for their tusks, world governments, spearheaded by Kenya, have voted at a major conservation conference to urge the closure of all domestic ivory markets.
Kenya’s bid to have domestic ivory markets closed received backing from world governments represented by more than 10,000 participants from 192 countries. This comes weeks to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The world representatives voted to have domestic markets closed. This was after a fierce debate following opposition from Namibia and Japan.
Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) rangers prepare a pyre in preparation for a burning of millions of dollars worth tonnes of ivory, Rhino-horn and other confiscated wildlife trophies © AFP/File / Tony Karumba
Kenya will put her case of banning ivory during the 17th CITES meeting from September 24 to October 5 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Kenya wants African elephants listed in CITES Appendix I, which has generated a heated debate among several African countries opposed to the proposal.
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In a document on July 1, the European Union, which has no elephant populations, opposed the proposals to protect elephants, causing a major spat with NGOs. Under the proposal, all African elephant populations and their range states will be unified under Appendix I, ending split-listing.
After fierce debate — including opposition from governments like Namibia and Japan — the motion was adopted on the final day of the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress, a 10-day meeting that drew 9,000 people to Honolulu, Hawaii this month.
“The vote by IUCN members is the first time that a major international body has called on every country in the world to close its legal markets for elephant ivory, said Andrew Wetzler, deputy chief program officer at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“It’s truly a landmark moment, and a victory for elephants that will hopefully be repeated later this month at the next meeting of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Johannesburg.”
The IUCN director general Inger Andersen said urgent action is needed to ensure the long-term survival of life on earth. She said the congress comes at a “pivotal” time when the planet’s history is at a crossroads.
Although the motion is non-binding, it “urges the governments of countries with domestic ivory markets to take all necessary legislative and regulatory efforts to close them,” according to the IUCN. The elephant population in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe is in Appendix II, meaning the countries can trade in ivory with permission from CITES.
Kenya has submitted 14 proposals on the African elephant, African pangolins, snakes species endemic to Kenya, the Thresher shark, chameleon species, plant species and others on measures to combat illegal wildlife trafficking. During the International Union for Conservation of Nature Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii, experts expressed concerns that the domestic markets could be creating opportunities for selling illegal ivory.
Experts say that domestic ivory markets help fuel poaching by allowing traffickers a cover for their illegal imports and exports.
The United States and China, among the biggest consumers of ivory, have already agreed to enact near-total bans on their domestic markets.
At the IUCN meeting, Japan and Namibia — which also have thriving domestic ivory markets — sought to soften the language of the motion by making 20 different amendments, but those efforts were rejected.
“The global conservation community is stepping up,” said Wildlife Conservation Society President and CEO Cristian Samper. “No more domestic ivory sales. Elephants have had enough of the ivory trade and so has the world.”