Skin and Bones

NOTICE: S&B is taking a break. We will be back with a revamp mid 2019! Unravelling the Illegal and controversial industry that threatens global biodiversity.

Ban or Plan?

Are we STILL working on a global ivory ban? Do we not have control of trade already?  We need a plan, A National Ivory Action Plan, Oh wait we have those too, do we just need to remember to use them?

Well I haven't posted in a while, as I have been working on a few things (stay tuned for otters, hornbills, lions and giant Chinese salamanders) and the blog has been a little ivory heavy lately. But, elephants are incredible and kind of awesome for the ecosystem, so sorry not sorry!

The pachyderms are also up for a huge amount of discussion at next month's CITES CoP17 in South Africa, and just the mention of an ivory ban has caused so much controversy over the last few weeks, SKIN AND BONES had to address it. 

In early May the governments of Zimbabwe and Namibia called to amend the listing of their elephants on CITES Appendix II, essentially facilitating and allowing them to profit from legal one-off sales of their ivory stockpiles onto the global market. 

They argued that the 'international ban (1989) on the sale of ivory has been a costly and unsuccessful 26 year experiment'. However, reflecting on trade, poaching and seizure data over the last 30 years, it seems clear that in fact it was the one off legal sales of ivory (in 2000 and 2008) that fueled the elephant slaughter. 

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the African Elephant Coalition - a coalition of 29 African states - is calling for all African elephants to be listed once again on Appendix I. This would ensure the continuance of zero commercial trade, including halting any proposals of future one off sales.


Elephant poached in Kenya. Credit: Elaine

As elephant populations are stable in Southern African countries but poaching still rife, in central Africa with Tanzania and Mozambique loosing half of their elephants in 6 years, not to mention deaths of rangers and poachers and just overall instability of the area. It brought about a little confusion when the EU (whose 28 member states make up the biggest voting bloc at CITES) voted against the global ban in Ivory. 

An EU official said: “We need a balanced position. We admit that the domestic trade in ivory should be banned in those situations where it can facilitate illegal trade but don’t fully agree with the inclusion of the African elephant in ‘Annex I’ in those four (Southern) countries. We would encourage the African countries to have a dialogue about this.”- The Guardian

Patrick Omondi, the deputy director of the Kenya wildlife service, added he was “taken aback and disappointed” by the stance from Brussels.


Conservationists have also got stuck into the debate: 

Colman O’Criodain a Wildlife trade analyst of WWF, writing for The Guardian, reminded us of the 19 African and Asian countries who signed up to unique CITES National Ivory Action Plans (in Bangkok, 2013).  These countries of concern committed to strengthening enforcement and heightening public awareness of the ivory crisis or else face trade sanctions.

"This process is now beginning to yield results. But all these gains could be lost if CITES does not continue to prioritize this approach

O'Criodain adds that the recent proposals just acted as a distraction, diverting attention away from 'measures that are needed to deal with the fundamental issues behind the illegal ivory trade'. 


Others may not feel the same:

Dave Curry - Environmentalist, Photographer and Writer - has never been afraid to speak his mind regarding WWF and their position within the global ivory market. 


He argues that, there is no real evidence the National Ivory Action Plans have affected poaching levels at all, and 'In the case of Thailand, the registration of 220 tonnes of “domestic” ivory under its NIAP is of major concern. Given this ivory is supposed to come from domestic Thai elephants, the quantity is simply unbelievable. It is claimed to be owned by a staggering 44,000 people and is reported to be already in trade."


So what will be the fate of Africa's majestic elephants? We will just have to wait till September to find out.

***I strongly recommend that you read Dave Curry's blog, it has some great historical information on Ivory trade which cannot be overlooked for future decisions.***


Ivory in a shop window, Hong Kong Credit: Sputnik Mania

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