Ivory Is Offered To Highest Bidder As Elephants Gain An Unsure Future

Stockpile Announcement: An elephant ivory auction of over 19,800 lb (9,000 kg) of ivory will begin officially tomorrow in the country of Namibia.

UPDATE:  LATEST NEWS STORIES

Read more on this story from Associated Press, AFP, CNN, NY Times Blog, Reuters and the UK Guardian.

The ivory sales will continue over the next two weeks in Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. This accounts for an estimated 10,000+ dead elephants.

To put this in perspective, an auction in the sale of ivory has not occurred in 10 years, given the catastrophic effects such a sale can have on elephant populations and individual elephant welfare. Yet despite credible concerns the UN-backed governing body, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, has approved for the auction to occur.

Unfortunately, both China and Japan have been approved as trading partners for this ivory. Knowing that China and Japan are home to some of the world’s largest illegal ivory markets causes great concern. IFAW has highlighted issues within China's ivory control system and citizens' unwillingness to comply. Just as much evidence exists demonstrating Japan's domestic market is out of control as well.

IFAW's Elephants Program Director, also former director of Kenya Wildlife Service, Michael Wamithi responds saying:

“Allowing this exorbitant amount of ivory to flood the market, considering the level of elephant poaching occurring today, is just plain irresponsible.” 

“Rangers on the front lines in elephant range states continue to lose their lives protecting elephants from poaching. 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's Southern Africa Director Jason Bell states:

“This impending moratorium on international ivory trade presents a critical opportunity for the international community to focus time and energy on elephant conservation initiatives.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.”

Here are the total amounts of ivory to be auctioned off by country: (Significant amounts of ivory in these stocks have been collected through culling which is itself a controversial means to control elephant populations.)

Botswana ~44K kg

Namibia ~9K kg

South Africa ~51K kg

Zimbabwe ~4K kg

Just when we believed the world's demand for ivory was about to lesson (eBay, Inc. announced a ban on all trade in elephant ivory over their Web sites) the news of the stockpile auction spreads. We'll keep you updated as this event continues. Thanks to everyone for your support on this cause!

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