“Africa’s Elephants Must be Saved, Stop Ivory Trade Talks,” Say Wildlife Conservation Symposium Delegates

Monday, August 28, 2006
Accra, Ghana
Wildlife management authorities and experts from 19 African states came together on August 24th to issue a strong declaration calling on increased regional and international actions to save African elephants from threats of habitat loss and ivory poaching. The delegates were attending a three-day international symposium focused on elephant conservation in West, East, and Central Africa held in Accra and organized by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org).
Elephant populations in West and Central Africa are some of the continent’s most vulnerable and most depleted. Only about three percent of Africa’s elephants can be found in the region, less than 20,000 individuals – where once hundreds of thousands of elephants roamed. These individuals are now pocketed into small, fragmented groups and are highly threatened by loss of habitat due to unplanned expansion of human settlements leading to rife human-elephant conflicts, and poaching for the bushmeat and ivory trades.

International trade in elephant ivory was banned by the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1989, however CITES has approved the one-off sale of ivory stockpiles from Namibia, Botswana and South Africa if specific trade and enforcement protocols are met. The decision to green-light these ivory sales could come as soon as October 2006, at the Geneva meeting of CITES’s Standing Committee.

The Accra elephant symposium was chaired by Professor Oteng Yeboa of Ghana, Vice-Chair of the CITES Standing Committee.

Delegates attending the symposium drafted a “declaration” calling on their respective governments, development partners, NGOs and other bodies to:

  1. Promote and ensure community-based participatory management of the natural resources in general and of the elephants in particular with elaborate community based action plans
  2. Reinforce national, regional and international conservation measures for the elephants and their habitats, including migratory routes
  3. Establish and safeguard the migratory routes   
  4. Develop institutional capacities
  5. Advocate a total ban on the ivory and related products trade and the return to CITES Appendix I for all elephant populations within the framework of CITES
  6. Promote private sector involvement in elephant conservation
  7. Ensure effective national policies, laws, and compliance and enforcement and identify a liaison officer to liaise with Interpol in  wildlife related offences
  8. Encourage membership to Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF)
  9. Promote communication, education and public awareness
  10. Promote the role of the development partners and the NGOs

Michael Wamithi of Kenya, IFAW’s Elephant Program Manager, participated in the symposium and said, “We have seen an unprecedented rise recently in international seizures of illegal African elephant ivory – a sure signal that the ivory black market is heating up as ivory dealers in key markets such as China and Japan await news of the stockpile sales. West and Central Africa’s small elephant populations can not absorb the levels of poaching we have seen. The stockpile sale scheme needs to be abolished immediately, or we risk losing some of the world’s most unique elephant populations – forever.”

To learn more about the critical elephant ivory issue, and to take action to save elephants, visit: www.ifaw.org today.

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Experts

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Cynthia Moss, IFAW Elephant Expert
IFAW Elephant Expert
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Program Director, Elephants Regional Director, South Africa
Program Director, Elephants, Regional Director, South Africa
Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia