Wildlife charities booted from CITES ivory talks
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2011:
GENEVA--Wildlife charities including the Born Free Foundation, Elephant Family, the Environmental Investigation Agency, Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Species Survival Network, and World Wildlife Fund were on August 17, 2011 excluded from attending “deliberations concerning elephant conservation, the ivory trade, and China’s increasing involvement in illegal ivory trade” at the 61st Standing Committee meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, e-mailed Rudy Rosensweig of Born Free USA to global media.
“The move was initiated by the government of Kuwait on behalf of the Asian region, and was supported by Botswana, Iran, Kuwait, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica and Norway,” said Rosensweig. Opposed by Australia, Bulgaria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.. the expulsion was reversed later in the day. “We are very happy with the outcomes of the meeting overall,” said WWF wildlife trade policy analyst Colman O’Criodain. “Attempts by some countries to evade scrutiny of their role in illegal trade only ensured that these countries are now more under the spotlight.”
Kenyan ivory trade investigators Esmond Martin and Lucy Vigne the week before the CITES triennial published The Ivory Dynasty: a report on the soaring demand for elephant and mammoth ivory in Southern China, following up on a similar investigation done in 2004. They found that the volume of ivory sold in the cities of Guangzhou and Fuzhau has approximately doubled, and that nearly two-thirds of the ivory items are not accompanied by required certification that the ivory was of legal origin.
Both Tanzania and Zambia have been seeking Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species permission to sell stockpiled ivory. Kenya opposes selling ivory under any circumstance, based on extensive evidence that expanding the market for legal ivory stimulates demand for poached ivory too.
CITES in 1989 banned international traffic in elephant ivory, but has several times authorized exemptions allowing Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe to sell stockpiled ivory from legally culled elephants, elephants who died of natural causes, or confiscated from poachers and smugglers. The exemptions–and rumors that exemptions may be granted–have repeatedly been followed by resurgent poaching throughout the wild elephant range in Africa and Asia.
Meaning to send a message to CITES, Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki on July 20, 2011 “ignited five metric tons of ivory seized in Singapore in 2002,” wrote Anthony Karumba of Agence France-Presse. “Some 335 tusks and 42,553 ivory carvings,” worth an estimated $16 million, “went up in smoke at the Manyani wildlife ranger training institution in Tsavo National Park, as agreed in May 2011 by Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya.”
Another 2.1 metric tons of ivory from the Singapore seizure are being processed for return to the nations of origin, chiefly Zambia, Kenya Wildlife Service Communications Manager Paul Udoto told Nellya Gitau of the Nairobi Star. “Some samples will be taken to Malawi and Zambia for possible prosecution and educational research purposes,” Lusaka Agreement secretariat director Bonaventure Ebayi told Gatonye Gathura of The Nation in Nairobi.
“Sources close to the negotiators,” who arranged the burning, “indicated that as many as 196 tusks will be repatriated for this purpose,” Gathura said, “but this did not go down very well with organizations such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which suspects that such ivory could corruptly end up in the global market.”
Then-Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi in 1989 torched an ivory stockpile at Nairobi National Park. Zambia burned consficated ivory in 1992.
Tsavo, the scene of the 2011 ivory burning, is home to about 12,500 of the estimated 472,250 elephants remaining in Africa–about a third of the African elephant population circa 1970. Kenya now has about 37,000 elephants, up from 16,000 at the time of the first ivory burning.
Khadija, the last mature female elephant in Samburu National Park, Kenya, was killed by poachers a week before the ivory burning, Save the Elephants director Iain Douglas-Hamilton disclosed three days afterward. Khadija, who was radio-collared, had been treated for bullet wounds from a previous attack just eight days earlier.