Imagine the savannahs and forests of Africa without elephants – it’s a nightmare scenario that could become reality in ten years if poaching continues at its present pace.
29 African countries are working together to outlaw the ivory trade, convinced that only a total ban will stop the killing. Even the USA and China – the world’s largest ivory importers – are in favor. The EU, however, will be advocating the “sustainable management” of elephants in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia at the CITES conference in Johannesburg in September 2016.
Conservationists the world over are appalled: “If the EU prevents an Annex I listing, it will be the beginning of the extinction of the African elephant,” says Andrew Seguya, director of Uganda’s Wildlife Authority.
Despite a near-total ban on the international ivory trade since 1989, poachers kill an elephant on average every 15 minutes. Eliminating loopholes in current regulations and outlawing domestic ivory trade is crucial. Yet the European Commissioner for the Environment, Karmenu Vella, asserts that “scientific criteria” speak against a total ban.
Once-off ivory sales in the years 1999 and 2008 have shown that even a brief legalization of the trade sends poachers on a rampage: criminals use such openings to kill as many elephants as they can.
Please call on the EU to support a total ban on ivory sales. Let’s not let Europe become an accessory to the extinction of the African elephant.