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Last Updated:[02-11-2009 06:37:38 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Collective Effort Needed to Stop Illegal Ivory Trade

tradenews It is evident now that the two decades of a law to ban poaching of elephants has done very little to stop illegal trade of ivory which is going on unabated particularly in Africa, and many other parts of the world. According to the International Fund for Wildlife Welfare (IFWW), a staggering 38,000 elephants are killed every year for their tusks.

The UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) enacted a law in 1989 to ban the trade of elephant tusks after finding the pachyderms being killed at an alarming rate. James Isiche of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Kenya in response to a Washington Post article stated that the ban was followed after ivory poaching slashed Africa’s elephant population from more than 1.2mn to about 450,000 in 10 years’ time.

Several conservationists feel that the intense poaching is occurring owing to several factors including high demand for ivory from the cash-rich Chinese consumers and poor enforcement of law by many backward countries of the African continent. The recent ivory auction, a special permission reserved to those countries which manage their elephant population well, bear witness to the fact that major chunk of the auctioned ivory is bought by China.

John Frederick Walker, an expert on ivory trade practises in a Washington Post article opined that a tightly controlled but steady stream of legal ivory from countries with protected herds, coupled with strict policing of domestic African ivory markets, may sound like an unholy coupling of conservation policies -- but it just might work. But in a response letter to this article Isiche said the only way to save the world's remaining elephants was to eliminate the global ivory trade, legal and illegal.

However, the growing concern over the survival of elephants has prompted eBay, the largest internet auction site to ban the sale of ivory; it will take effect from 1 Jan of 2010. The IFAW tracked more than 7,000 wildlife product listings on 183 web sites in 11 countries and discovered elephant ivory accounted for 73 percent of the trade.

The IFAW findings are a wakeup call to all trade portals to respect and participate in the process of stopping illegal ivory trade. Robbie Marsland of IFAW, UK, in an interview to the Telegraph, urged there was no doubt left that all internet dealers needed to take responsibility for their impact on endangered species by enacting and enforcing a ban on all online wildlife trade.

IFAW has now appealed to the CITES and the trade portals to evolve a comprehensive strategy to counter the killings of elephants across the world. Action such as, enacting robust domestic legislation on internet wildlife trade, implementing and empowering effective enforcement, public awareness campaigns and devising new ways to monitor and curtail the online trade in endangered wildlife were recommended. The CITES conference in Doha, Qatar, in March is expected to take these proposals seriously to give a logical effect.

By Jose Roy

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