Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Victory for Sustainable Use of Elephants


Safari Club

June 14, 2007

The Hague, Netherlands – The commercial sales of elephant ivory stocks will be allowed after a compromise was reached following nearly two weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations at the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).

The 170 nation CITES treaty will also allow sportsmen to ship their elephant ivory hunting trophies from range states. Commercial trade in elephant hair, hide and certain carved ivory items was also approved.

Safari Club International’s chief of delegation, John Monson, said that “the result was recognition of the good management of elephants in southern Africa and the dramatic increase in those populations.”

Rick Parsons, SCI’s Director of Governmental Affairs, added that “the CITES parties have moved a long way in recognizing that the sustainable use of wildlife, including sport hunting, can have substantial benefits for wildlife conservation.”

The day prior to the two-week meeting, the executive body of CITES, the Standing Committee, agreed that the final conditions had been met for the sale of varying amount of ivory in governmental stocks that had been agreed in principle at the CITES meeting in Chile five years earlier. These stocks are held by Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.

As a result of the compromise reached last night, those three countries, plus Zimbabwe, received approval to sell governmental ivory stocks that had accumulated through January 2007. This trade in the “Chile-approved” stocks and the stocks accumulated through January 2007 can be suspended if it is shown that there has been non-compliance with the many conditions attached to the trade, or “in the case of proven detrimental impacts of the trade on other elephant populations.”

The governmental stocks come from elephants that died of natural causes or from elephants taken to protect local communities. The proceeds from these sales must go entirely to elephant conservation and to development of the local communities that live with the elephants.

Once the sale of the “Chile-approved” stocks occurs, there will follow a nine-year period in which no sale of ivory stocks can occur. The Standing Committee was charged with coming up with a “decision-making mechanism for a process of trade in ivory…” by the time the parties have their 16th meeting.

Ken Schwartz

Governmental Affairs and Communications Manager
(202) 543-8733