IFAW Unveils African Ambassador For The Ivory Trade Ban Campaign

Friday, May 18, 2007
Nairobi, Kenya
Elephants today sent a most unusual envoy to this year’s CITES Conference of Parties Meeting beginning next June in The Hague, Netherlands. Dubbed Mjumbe, or Ambassador in Swahili, the life-size elephant sculpture made from confiscated bare wire snares and commissioned by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) was unveiled this morning by Kenya’s Tourism and Wildlife Minister Morris Dzoro as a mascot for the campaign against ivory trade and a poignant reminder to CITES delegates of the other/additional threats that still plague the African elephant.
Kenya and Mali have proposed a 20-year moratorium on ivory trade arguing that one-off ivory sales in select countries opens up markets, both legal and illegal, and lures poachers. “It would be suicidal to allow a new one-off sale or annual quota of ivory, as proposed by Southern African countries, while levels of illegal trade and poaching remain such serious threats to elephants across Africa and Asia as they are now,” said Dzoro.
 
“This moratorium will give all parties especially range state authorities time to strengthen elephant protection and law enforcement and also ensure that effective mechanisms for detecting illegal killing of elephants are in place,” he said.
 
Terming any resumption of ivory trade “the death knell for elephants,” IFAW’s Regional Director for East Africa James Isiche said statistics indicating the killing of 20,000 elephants each year and the seizure of over 31 tonnes (34 tons) of contraband ivory in 17 incidents across the world since the last CITES Conference of Parties meeting in 2003, was evidence that lucrative black markets for contraband ivory still exist.
 
“These markets are sustained by law enforcement limitations and systemic vices such as corruption that make it possible to kill elephants and smuggle their tusks across international borders almost unhindered,” said Isiche.
 
Citing a study carried out this year by IFAW in Europe, Asia and the United States that revealed the sale of 2,200 ivory products on eBay, Isiche said, “It is even more frightening that advances in information technology now make it possible to stealthily procure illegal ivory products over the internet with just the click of a mouse.”

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