Global conservation community moves to close illicit domestic ivory markets
Conservationists from ZSL (Zoological Society of London) are today hailing a potential turning point for Africa’s embattled elephants, as attendees at the CITES CoP17 wildlife conference in Johannesburg move to close all global domestic markets linked with poaching of elephants and trade in their ivory.
The proposals, originally put forward by a number of African elephant range states last week and supported by ZSL’s conservation experts, were subjected to intense scrutiny by participants in working groups before a revised draft was presented to the assembled Parties for approval earlier today.
The decision means that efforts can now move towards translating these decisions into action on the ground and closing those markets linked to the illicit ivory trade.
Commenting on today’s result, Professor Jonathan Baillie – Director of Conservation Programmes at ZSL, said: “Today’s vote in Johannesburg represents an important moment in turning around the situation around for Africa’s elephants and our delegation played a role in the intense working group discussions that helped to enable this outcome.
“The ongoing existence of unregulated domestic ivory markets is without doubt a major factor fuelling the escalating elephant slaughter across Africa’s savannah and forests, so any effort of this magnitude to tackle the problem must be applauded.
“In the last 12 months, we have seen two of the world’s largest domestic ivory markets – USA and China - commit to near-closure. The UK also recently committed to place additional restrictions on its own domestic ivory market and led efforts at CITES in Johannesburg to secure this proposal. We welcome the UK Government’s initiative and leadership on this topic and encourage it to move forward quickly to make good its commitment to close its domestic ivory market.
“Achieving consensus at CITES between so many different Parties, many of whom have very different perspectives on this complex issue, means that compromises have to be made on all sides. The decision means that efforts can now move towards translating these decisions into action on the ground and closing those markets linked to the illicit ivory trade. ZSL strongly believes that all domestic ivory markets inherently pose a risk for illegal trade. ”