CITES Parties Fail to Agree on Stricter Measures to Protect Elephants

CITES Parties Fail to Agree on Stricter Measures to Protect Elephants
Sunday, 2 October, 2016
Johannesburg, South Africa

Elephants were the losers today, when a number of key measures proposed by African elephant range States to protect them from international trade were distilled into a single document leaving the animals exposed to the menace of poaching for illegal ivory trade.

CITES Parties compromised the political will of countries from source, to transit to market to close domestic ivory markets and destroy ivory stockpiles.

Proposals on the destruction of ivory stockpiles and the closure of domestic markets were merged into a single resolution leaving each much the weaker.

The proposal by 10 African elephant range states encouraging Parties to destroy ivory stockpiles thus was watered down to a decision to develop guidelines for the management of stockpiles including disposal; instead of robust encouragement of parties to destroy their ivory stockpiles.

“Given that stockpiles represent a security risk and are a target for criminals to steal and leak ivory into commercial markets, there really should be no question that stockpiles of confiscated ivory should be destroyed with as little impediment as possible,” said Grace Gabriel, Asia Regional Director for IFAW.

Another proposal also by 10 African elephant range States led by Angola, calling for Parties with legal domestic markets to close them; now only encourages countries to close those markets that contribute to poaching and illegal trade.

“In the working group China, whose ivory market has in recent years contributed to the escalation in elephant poaching, took the strongest position of any party in the room. They wanted the resolution to urge countries to close domestic markets whether or not those markets were directly tied to poaching in Africa,” said Gabriel.

“It’s encouraging to see China making another commitment to implement President Xi Jin Ping’s pledge to close domestic ivory markets. It’s a pity that countries with existing legal domestic ivory markets ignored the risks legal markets may bring to elephant populations and local communities due to the opportunities they create for the laundering of illegal ivory under the guise of legality.”

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos are available at

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