Happy Faces all around the Conference Center
The International Fund for Animal Welfare's Lynn Levine is on the ground at CITES in the Hague...she filed this story about the situation in committee with elephants yesterday...
At the end of the day yesterday, the African elephant range states met once again to try and hammer out an agreement. Later in the evening, a representative from Chad flew in and deliberations continued well into the night (some have heard up until the morning). From these meetings, a new proposal, jointly submitted by Chad and Zambia (!) incorporating a significant amount of the philosophy of the pro-conservation range states, emerged. The accord calls for a nine-year suspension of all trade in ivory. It also states that there will be no discussions on ivory trade until the nine-year period has ended. Another element that proponents of the original Kenya and Mali proposal were pushing for was cross-border cooperation among all range states plus an African Elephant Action Plan. The concession for gaining this suspension was the release of additional stockpiles from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, but only ivory which was already part of the officially registered government stockpile by January 31, 2007. The quantities are somewhat unclear: several African delegates have stated that these additional stockpiles total around 70 tonnes, but the Secretariat announced in its press conference earlier today that it was more than double. Such a higher number than expecting could be worrying, but everyone is still feeling positive that 1) all four of these countries wanting to dump their stockpiles must pass CITES scrutiny before the clock starts ticking on the nine years, so the resting period could actually be much more than just the stated nine years and 2) this is a great day for both the elephants and the African countries that support conservation efforts on their behalf.
Everyone here is not surprisingly, exhausted. Still, we're off to celebrate!
MULTIMEDIA - You can also listen to IFAW's Program Manager for Wildlife Trade, Peter Pueschel, discuss our conservation work at CITES via Windows Media Player. Thanks to WAMU out of Washington D.C. and American University for the stream.