Governments and organisations from around the world are uniting to protect Africa’s elephants: more than 32 African countries having signed a petition calling on the European Union (EU) to ban its ivory trade, and a separate campaign has been launched to end Canada’s domestic ivory trade.
The EU petition was signed by African Presidents and senior Ministers of 15 of the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI) member States, including President Khama of Botswana, President Museveni of Uganda and President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon.
The petition, organised by citizens movement Avaaz, calls on EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella and EU heads of government to close Europe’s domestic trade in ivory, end all ivory exports, and support efforts to ban the global ivory trade.
Meanwhile on the other side of the world, in Canada, EPI member states continue to build momentum for collaborative global efforts to protect Africa’s elephants through the closure of domestic ivory markets. The Chairman of the EPI Implementation Board, Mr. Kumara Wakjira of Ethiopia, has written to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in Canada, Catherine McKenna, urging the Canadian Government to end Canada’s domestic ivory trade.
Mr. Wakjira, on behalf of the 18-member States of the EPI, wrote offering the African-led initiative’s full support of Elephanatics, the Canadian elephant advocacy organisation, who have rallied 95 leading scientists, politicians and animal conservation organisations from around the world behind its campaign. Alongside a letter, Elephanatics has created an #ivoryfreecanada petition online, with over 126,000 signatures and counting.
By agreement of all parties to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), the international trade in ivory was banned in 1989 – but, in some countries, a legal domestic trade in ivory continues. This threatens the future of Africa’s elephants by perpetuating demand and serving as a cover for the illegal trade, threatening the survival of elephant populations today.
Significant progress has already been made; with the closure and commitment of closure of major domestic ivory markets – including China, the United States and, most recently, Hong Kong. The EPI and its members have played an important role building and maintaining this momentum, including working with the UK government to produce plans for a ban of ivory sales in the UK. In addition, the International Community adopted two important resolutions at the IUCN World Conservation Congress and Conference of the Parties to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), calling on governments to close their domestic ivory markets.
However, commercial trade in ivory products continues to be permitted within EU countries and within Canada. The EU is the world’s biggest exporter of legal ivory and presides over a booming trade. It exported 1,258 tusks in 2014 and 2015 alone, more than the previous 8 years combined.
Poaching for ivory continues at an unsustainable rate, and vulnerable populations cannot afford delay. It is time for the EU and the Government of Canada to join the leaders of the EPI, and play its part to secure a sustainable future for elephants in Africa.
Please join us and sign for #ivoryfreecanada