- International sale of Ivory will commence tomorrow, with Namibia kick-starting southern African regional auction scheduled to run for next two weeks.
Despite controversy surrounding UN-sanctioned sale, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said elephant ivory auction totaling over 19,800 lb (9,000 kg) will begin tomorrow in Namibia.
This will be first time in nearly 10 years that international trade in elephant ivory has been sanctioned by UN-backed Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Afrter Namibia sales will continue over next two weeks in Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa, with a grand total of 119 tons (108 tonnes) of ivory up for bidding, a figure that IFAW says accounts for an estimated 10,000+ dead elephants.
Both China and Japan have been approved as trading partners for this ivory and are known to be among the world's largest illegal ivory markets. According to IFAW's Elephants Programme Director, Michael Wamithi, this has been a sheer mock to protecting Elephants and combating ellegal ivory trade. "Allowing this exorbitant amount of ivory to flood the market, considering the level of elephant poaching occurring today, is just plain irresponsible," he said.
IFAW's 2007 China ivory trade poll report highlighted low awareness of ivory control system and also citizens' unwillingness to comply with this framework. According to the report, among 14.5 per cent that were actually admitted consumers of ivory, 75.7 per cent would willingly violate control system in order to obtain ivory at a cheaper price, further saying much evidence also exists that Japan's domestic market is out of control.
"Rangers on the front lines in elephant range states continue to lose their lives protecting elephants from poaching," continued Mr Wamithi. "Developing countries continue to bear the brunt of burgeoning Asian markets. By permitting legal trade in ivory, we are only encouraging the laundering of stocks by poachers, thereby increasing illegal hunting activities. The situation is very clear: more ivory in the marketplace equals many more dead elephants - and rangers."
IFAW also stated that a year ago, a suspension of at least nine years on international elephant ivory trade was approved at 14th meeting of CITES Conference of the Parties, saying this trade ban is only set to come into affect after the stockpiles sales are completed.
"This impending moratorium on international ivory trade presents a critical opportunity for the international community to focus time and energy on elephant conservation initiatives," said Jason Bell-Leask, IFAW's Southern Africa Regional Office Director. "We need to be vigilant if we want to succeed in maintaining the integrity of elephant populations in Africa and Asia for coming generations. The future of elephants is clearly in our hands at this point."
Total amounts said to be on auction per country are: Botswana - 44K kg; Namibia - 9K kg; South Africa - 51K kg; and Zimbabwe - 4K kg, said to be of ivory in stocks collected through culling which is itself a controversial means to control elephant populations, according to conservationists.
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