PANAMA CITY. – The 19th conference of the parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) began in Panama City on Monday with African countries pushing for various reviews of proposals and documents on elephants and ivory.
The conference will run until 25 November with 183 countries considering more than 100 proposals and documents submitted by governments to change the levels of protection of species of wild animals and plants that are in international trade.
Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Senegal, and Syria want elephants classified under appendix I which looks into species threatened with extinction. This classification means trade will be permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
The summary of the proposal would mean the Loxodonta Africana (African elephants) found in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe must be migrated from appendix II.
Appendix II, where African elephants fall under at present, is for species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid “utilisation incompatible with their survival”.
Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, and Namibia want an amendment in appendix III that would allow them to sell their ivory stockpiles.
The proposal claims CITES has discounted “the importance of the Southern African elephant population and its conservation needs against other regions in Africa”.
But there’s strong opposition to this because some countries feel there is uncertainty about the impact of trade on conservation. Already, there’s a red list that considers African elephants as “endangered”, which supports a ban on the commercial ivory trade.
“Seventy-six percent of Africa’s elephants are found in transboundary populations, including the populations of Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. The species is threatened in most range states.
“African elephant conservation can only be addressed effectively at the continental level,” reads the opposition paper to the lobby.
The other resistance comes from the international ivory markets, which are global in nature and do not distinguish between source countries with different levels of protection or management capacity.
If the international commercial ivory trade is reopened, it will stimulate global demand, thus threatening all elephant populations.
Benin, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Niger, Senegal, and Togo are calling on the identification of member states that have not properly reported on the level of stockpiles within their territory, or that have not adequately secured those stockpiles.
These member states are also pushing for countries to consider the destruction of their stockpiles.
The rationale is that “the level of ivory stockpiles worldwide is growing and presents a serious threat to elephants through leakage of ivory into illegal trade, which perpetuates demand and ongoing markets for ivory”.
In 2019, ivory seizures raised concerns about the source of the ivory and whether some of the seized ivory was leaked from stockpiles.
“Continued maintenance of ivory stockpiles sends the signal that future ivory sales are anticipated. Destruction of ivory and putting ivory stockpiles beyond commercial use will help to neutralise expectations of future trade in ivory and will discourage future markets,” they argue. – News24.com