Conservation on the Agenda, as 17 African Nations meet to talk Elephants

Wednesday, 6 February, 2008
Bamako, Mali
Delegates from 17 African elephant range states will hold meetings for two days in Bamako to work towards pro-elephant conservation and anti- ivory trade initiatives. From this meeting, there is potential for the formation of a coalition of like-minded states that will work towards strengthening elephant conservation.
The delegates are from Mali, Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Cameroun, Ivory Coast, Togo, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Southern Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya.
“IFAW is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow conservationists from Africa and Asia”, remarked Kevin Shields, Wildlife and Habitat Programme Director for IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – IFAW will be facilitating the meeting along with the hosts, the Mali and Kenya Governments.
“The illegal trade in ivory and illegal killing of elephants has continued unabated in many elephant range states since CITES decisions in 1997 to allow some South African states to undertake ivory stockpile sales,” continues Shields. “The time has come to formally unify ourselves in the plight for the conservation of elephants, in order to stop the killing.” 
During CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) 14th Conference of the Parties, June 2007, many of these countries came together to support a 20-year ivory trade moratorium proposal by Kenya and Mali. IFAW played a significant role in securing support for the proposal, and continues to support the coalition.
The decisions made by CITES last June will have major play in this two-day meeting. The 20-year moratorium proposal was rejected, and a nine-year “resting period” was approved with the condition that huge stockpile sales were allowed from South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia. “This tonnage of ivory is sure to stimulate market demand and encourage poachers to kill elephants”, says Michael Wamithi, Programme Manager for IFAW’s global Elephants Programme.
Japan has been approved as a trading partner already, and China is now seeking approval. This is a controversial topic and is up for discussion at the meeting.
The ivory trade debate has been and continues to be one of the major points of disagreement over elephant conservation among African elephant range states. Africa has had a distressing history with elephants, plummeting from 1.3 million elephants in the early 1970s to an estimated 450,000 remaining today. Asia has not been spared either, with populations standing at an estimated 35,000-45,000.
To learn more about the critical elephant ivory issue, and to take action to save elephants, visit: today.       

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