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Ivory sales get the
The Hague, 2 June 2007 - The
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild
Fauna and Flora (CITES) has approved exports of elephant ivory
from Botswana (20 tons of ivory), Namibia (10 tons) and South
Africa (30 tons).
The exports were agreed in principle in 2002 but were made conditional
on the establishment of up-to-date and comprehensive baseline
data on elephant poaching and population levels.
Today's meeting of the CITES Standing Committee (which oversees
the implementation of CITES decisions between the major conferences)
determined that this condition has been satisfied and that the
exports may proceed.
"The CITES Secretariat will closely supervise these new
exports and monitor future trends in elephant poaching and population
levels throughout Africa. By basing future decisions on reliable
field data, CITES can develop an approach to elephant ivory that
benefits States relying on elephants for tourism as well as those
seeking income from elephant products in order to finance wildlife
conservation," said the Secretary-General of the Convention,
Mr Willem Wijnstekers.
CITES banned the international commercial ivory trade in 1989.
Then, in 1997, recognizing that some southern African elephant
populations were healthy and well managed, it permitted Botswana,
Namibia and Zimbabwe to make a one-time sale of ivory to Japan
totalling 50 tons. This sale took place in 1999 and amounted to
some USD 5 million.
In 2004, requests by several southern African States for annual
ivory quotas were not accepted by the Conference of the Parties
(CoP) to the Convention. Legal sales of ivory derive from existing
stocks gathered from elephants that have died as a result of natural
causes or problem-animal control. Today the elephant populations
of southern Africa are listed in Appendix II of the Convention
(which allows trade through a permit system), while all other
elephant populations are listed in Appendix I (which prohibits
all imports for commercial purposes).
The long-running global debate over elephants has focused on
the benefits that income from ivory sales may bring to conservation
and to local communities living side-by-side with large and sometimes
dangerous animals, weighed against concerns that such sales may
increase poaching. The baseline data will make it possible to
determine objectively what impact future ivory sales may have
on elephant populations and poaching.
In a related but separate decision, the Standing Committee has
also decided that Japan has established sufficiently strong domestic
trade control systems to be granted the status of trading partner
allowed to import the approved ivory.
Note to journalists: For more information, see www.cites.org,
and in particular the Standing Committee meeting documents at
and the 2002 agreement on ivory at www.cites.org/eng/cop/12/Adopted_Amendments.pdf
(pages 5 to 8), or contact Juan Carlos Vasquez at + 31 6 10615136
or Vasquez@cites2007.com or Fatma Gordon at + 31 6 22 293 372.
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