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Ivory sales get the go-ahead
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Geneva, 16 July 2008 – Today, the CITES Standing Committee (which oversees the implementation of CITES between the major conferences) has given the go-ahead to the one-off sale of ivory that was agreed in principle in June 2007. Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe are now authorized to make a single sale of a total of 108 tons of government-owned ivory. The following quantities of raw ivory have been approved: Botswana: 43,682.91 kg, Namibia: 9,209.68 kg, South Africa: 51,121.8 kg, and Zimbabwe: 3,755.55 kg.
The Committee also agreed to designate China as an importing country. Japan had already been allowed to import ivory in 2006. Both countries stated that they would closely monitor their domestic markets.
All the proceeds of the sale are to be used exclusively for elephant conservation and local communities living side-by-side with elephants.
"The Secretariat will closely supervise this sale and evaluate its impact on elephant population levels throughout Africa. We will continue monitoring the Chinese and Japanese domestic trade controls to ensure that unscrupulous traders do not take this opportunity to launder ivory from illegal origin", said the Secretary-General of the Convention, Mr Willem Wijnstekers.
CITES banned the international commercial ivory trade in 1989. 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 raised some USD 5 million for elephant conservation.
Legal sales of ivory derive from existing stocks gathered from elephants that have died as a result of natural causes or from problem-animal control. Today the elephant populations of southern Africa are listed in Appendix II of the Convention (which allows commercial trade through a permit system), while all other elephant populations are listed in Appendix I (which prohibits all imports for commercial purposes).
Note to journalistes: For more information, contact Juan Carlos Vasquez at +41 22 917 81 56 or +41 79 378 65 40 or [email protected]
– Official documents and other information of the 57th meeting of the Standing Committee
– The list of members of the Standing Committee
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