CITES advises rejection of Tanzanian elephant proposal

Wednesday, March 17, 2010
(Doha, Qatar – 16 March 2010) –The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Secretariat today recommended that Tanzania’s elephant and ivory proposal be rejected, citing concerns about poaching and enforcement.

However, in a disappointing evaluation of the Panel of Experts reports, the Secretariat recommended supporting the Zambian ivory-trade proposal, and also supports the downlisting of elephants to Appendix II.

The 15th Conference of the Parties (CoP) of CITES is currently taking place in Doha.

“Parties need to apply their own rigorous evaluations of the Panel of Experts reports as neither proposal meets the biological criteria for downlisting,” said Jason Bell-Leask, Director of IFAW Southern Africa. “Both populations have suffered significant declines over the past three decades and there is evidence to suggest that these populations are still recovering from intensive poaching in the 1980s.”

Tanzania and Zambia have submitted proposals seeking permission for a one-off sale of 112 tonnes of ivory. These two countries hoped to open the door for future ivory trade by ‘downlisting’ their elephant populations, which would mean that these elephants will lose the highest levels of protection.

At the last CITES conference in 2007, Parties agreed to a nine-year moratorium on any further trade in ivory.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “IFAW is calling for all Parties to respect the moratorium – downlisting is simply a pre-cursor to trade and should not be considered in light of the massive escalation of seizures of illegal ivory and poaching we have seen since the last CoP.”

The African Elephant Coalition of 23 African elephant range countries oppose the proposals for the downlistings and one-off sales, insisting that the nine-year resting period provides all African range states with the opportunity to cooperatively secure elephants in their habitat

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