Elephants And Ivory CITES CoP18 And What The Opposing Countries Want
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Elephants and Ivory: The Controversy over Trade at CITES CoP18
The 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP18) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) took place in Geneva, Switzerland from 17 to 28 August 2019. Among the many issues discussed at the conference, one of the most contentious was the trade in elephant ivory. Three proposals and three documents related to elephants and ivory were submitted by different African countries, reflecting their divergent views on how to conserve and manage their elephant populations.
Proposal 10, submitted by Zambia, sought to transfer its population of African elephants ( Loxodonta africana) from Appendix I to Appendix II of CITES, subject to certain conditions. Appendix I lists species that are threatened with extinction and are not allowed to be traded commercially, while Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction but may become so unless trade is regulated. Zambia argued that its elephant population was stable and well-managed, and that it needed to generate revenue from ivory trade to support conservation and community development. However, the proposal was opposed by many other countries and conservation organizations, who argued that Zambia's elephants still met the criteria for Appendix I listing, that ivory trade would fuel poaching and trafficking across Africa and Asia, and that governance and law enforcement in Zambia were inadequate to prevent illegal trade.
Proposal 11, submitted by Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe, sought to amend the annotation to their elephant populations in Appendix II, which currently allows them to trade only in live elephants, hunting trophies and leather goods. The proposal aimed to enable them to trade in registered raw ivory to CITES-approved trading partners who would not re-export it. The proponents claimed that their elephant populations were healthy and exceeded their ecological carrying capacity, that they had effective conservation and anti-poaching measures in place, and that they had a sovereign right to utilize their natural resources for the benefit of their people. However, the proposal faced strong opposition from many other countries and conservation organizations, who argued that ivory trade would increase demand, poaching and trafficking, that it would undermine ongoing efforts to combat illegal trade, and that it would threaten elephants in all range states.
Proposal 12, submitted by Burkina Faso, CÃ´te d'Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic and Togo on behalf of the African Elephant Coalition (AEC), sought to transfer all African elephant populations from Appendix II to Appendix I. The AEC is a group of 32 African countries that are committed to a total ban on ivory trade and the protection of elephants. The proponents argued that African elephants met the biological and precautionary criteria for Appendix I listing, that they faced an ongoing poaching crisis driven by demand for ivory, that legal trade created loopholes for illegal trade, and that a unified listing would simplify enforcement and send a clear message to consumers. However, the proposal was rejected by many other countries and conservation organizations, who argued that some elephant populations did not meet the criteria for Appendix I listing, that legal trade could provide incentives for conservation and community livelihoods, and that a split-listing allowed for differentiation among range states.
Document 44.1, submitted by Burkina Faso et al. on behalf of the AEC,
sought to limit trade in live African elephants from Appendix II populations
to in situ conservation programmes or secure areas in the wild within
the species' natural range. The document aimed to prevent exports of live
elephants from Africa to zoos or other captive facilities outside their
natural range. The proponents argued that such exports were detrimental
to the well-being of elephants and contrary to the definition of
'appropriate and acceptable destinations' under CITES Resolution Conf.
11.20 (Rev. CoP18). However, the document was opposed by some other
countries and conservation organizations, who argued that such exports
could contribute to conservation funding and education programmes,
and that CITES should respect the decisions of range states on how
to manage their elephant populations.
submitted by eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), sought to amend Resolution
Conf. 10.10 (Rev. CoP18) on aa16f39245