UN rejects Tanzania request for one-off ivory sale

Mar 22, 2010 By MICHAEL CASEY , AP Environmental Writer
In this Saturday July 18, 2009 file photo, a Kenya Wildlife Service warden stands in a storage room holding elephant ivory impounded since 1989. Tanzania and Zambia are requesting a U.N. conservation meeting approve one-off sales of their ivory stocks, despite criticism from conservationists that they are not doing enough to crack down on poaching which has intensified in recent years. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi, File)

(AP) -- A proposal by Tanzania to weaken the 21-year ban on ivory sales was rejected by a U.N. conservation meeting over fears the African country has been failing to crack down on rising incidents of poaching.

A similar proposal from Zambia to sell off its ivory stocks will be considered later in the day at the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Kenya and six other African countries, on the other hand, are proposing a halt in what limited international trade in ivory is currently allowed and a 20-year moratorium on any attempts to relax international trade controls on African elephant ivory.

The ruling was a rare victory for environmentalists at the two-week meeting who have endured defeats ranging from an export ban on to a shark conservation plan to a proposal to regulate of red and pink corals.

Tanzania's proposal would have been been the third such ivory sale following ones in 1999 and 2008.

"Governments made the right decision by rejecting Tanzania's proposals," said Carlos Drews of the World Wildlife Fund. "It is not the right time to be approving ivory sales due to increased elephant poaching and in central and western Africa."

Tanzania was asking to sell almost 200,000 pounds (90,000 kilograms) of ivory that would have generated as much as $20 million. It noted in its proposal that its elephant population has risen from about 55,000 in 1989 to almost 137,000, according to a 2007 study.

It argued that its elephant population had reached the point where they were trampling crops and killing too many people.

"Tanzania is committed to conservation of its wildlife including elephants," said Shamsa Selengia Mwangunga, the country's minister of natural resources and tourism. "But should this meeting fail to consider this proposal, we run the risk of enhancing hostility against elephants by our local community especially where human-elephant conflicts are prevalent. More elephants would be killed."

But opponents led by the United States, the European Union and several central and west African countries say the country has not done enough to combat poaching and the illegal trade in ivory. They also wanted more time to assess whether a 2008 ivory sale by Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia had contributed to the illegal trade.

Ivory sales have in recent years been among the most contentious proposals at CITES and this time around African countries, and even some environmental groups, are divided. The ivory would be sold to China and Japan - the only countries which have asked to purchase it.

TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring group, tracks ivory seizures and found that poaching and smuggling to markets mostly in Asia has risen steadily since 2004. They blame weak law enforcement in Africa and growing demand for ivory products like chopsticks and ivory jewelry mostly in China, Thailand and other Asian countries.

Africa elephants have seen their numbers drop in the past 40 years by more than to 600,000 mostly due to poaching. A global ban on the ivory trade in 1989 briefly halted their slide. But conservationists said that poaching now leads to the loss of as many as 60,000 elephants each year. Without intervention, the could be nearly extinct by 2020.

Tom De Meulenaer, the elephant expert for CITES, said last week the organization endorsed a conclusion by a panel of experts that Zambia had measures in place to allow the sale, while Tanzania had poaching in several parts of the country and remained a transit point for illegal raw ivory shipments.

Explore further: Campaigners say protected birds in danger in Malta

More information: http://www.cites.org

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Elephant-size loopholes sustain Thai ivory trade

Jun 19, 2009

Legal loopholes and insufficient law enforcement mean that Thailand continues to harbour the largest illegal ivory market in Asia, says a new report from the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.

Fewer elephants with tusks born in China

Jul 18, 2005

More of China's male elephants reportedly are being born without tusks because hunting of the animals for their ivory is affecting the gene pool.

Recommended for you

Yurok Tribe to release condors in California

1 hour ago

The Yurok Tribe has signed agreements with state and federal agencies that will lead to the first release of captive-bred condors into Northern California's Redwood Coast.

Genetic legacy of rare dwarf trees is widespread

1 hour ago

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London have found genetic evidence that one of Britain's native tree species, the dwarf birch found in the Scottish Highlands, was once common in England.

Invasive vines swallow up New York's natural areas

21 hours ago

(Phys.org) —When Antonio DiTommaso, a Cornell weed ecologist, first spotted pale swallow-wort in 2001, he was puzzled by it. Soon he noticed many Cornell old-field edges were overrun with the weedy vines. ...

Citizen scientists match research tool when counting sharks

Apr 23, 2014

Shark data collected by citizen scientists may be as reliable as data collected using automated tools, according to results published April 23, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Gabriel Vianna from The University of Wes ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Genetic legacy of rare dwarf trees is widespread

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London have found genetic evidence that one of Britain's native tree species, the dwarf birch found in the Scottish Highlands, was once common in England.

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live i ...

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals.

Cell resiliency surprises scientists

New research shows that cells are more resilient in taking care of their DNA than scientists originally thought. Even when missing critical components, cells can adapt and make copies of their DNA in an alternative ...

Google+ boss leaving the company

The executive credited with bringing the Google+ social network to life is leaving the Internet colossus after playing a key role there for nearly eight years.