African wildlife officials appalled as EU opposes a total ban on ivory trade
Wildlife officials in nearly 30 African states say they are appalled by an EU decision to oppose a comprehensive global ban on the ivory trade.
European commissions’ opposition to a proposed global ban will spell the beginning of a mass extinction of African elephants, warn officials from 29 African states.
In a position paper released on 1 July, the European commission said that rather than an all-encompassing ban it would be better to encourage countries with growing elephant numbers to “sustainably manage” their populations.
An existing global embargo on ivory sales is due to end in 2017 and Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa and Botswana are pushing for it to be replaced with a decision-making mechanism for future tusk trading, at the Convention on International Trade in International Species (Cites) conference in Johannesburg this September.
However, the African Elephant Coalition (AEC) – a coalition of 29 African states – is warning of a mass extinction on the continent within 25 years, unless elephants are given an ‘Annex I’ Cites listing, which would ban any future domestic ivory trade.
Andrew Seguya, the director of Uganda’s Wildlife Authority, told the Guardian: “If the EU prevents an Annex I listing, it will be the beginning of the extinction of the African elephant for sure. We have lost 100,000 elephants in just three years. If nothing is done, we will see a tipping of the balance in conservation efforts before the next Cites COP (conference of parties).”
In 2014, 20,000 African elephants were killed by poachers. Between 2009 and 2015, Tanzania and Mozambique lost over half their elephant populations, with similar figures reported across east and central Africa.
The death rate is such that every 15 minutes, an elephant somewhere is killed by poachers.
Experts say that traumatised elephant populations in Africa are increasingly becoming nocturnal and migrating in mega-herds of up to 550 in a bid to avoid contact with poachers.
Azizou El Hadj Issa, a former minister in Benin and president of the AEC’s council of elders said: “The situation is alarming in most of our countries. Elephants are slaughtered every day, rangers are being killed and the trade is fuelling terrorism which destabilises the continent and has huge repercussions for EU security. We need the EU to support us and become part of the solution to this crisis.”
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