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29 African Nations Unite to Ban Ivory Trade
   2016-06-24 10:53:34    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Li Linxi

Kenya destroys nearly all of its elephant ivory and rhino horn stockpiles in a ceremony at Nairobi National Park on April 30, 2016. This act sends a strong message to the international community that the illegal trade in wildlife, which is pushing several species to the brink of extinction, cannot be tolerated. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com / Xing Yihang]

The African Elephant Coalition (AEC), comprising 29 African countries with a shared commitment to ensuring the survival of the African elephant, will meet from 24 to 26 June in Montreux, Switzerland.

They are gathering to consolidate their position in the run-up to the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in September-October this year in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Five complementary proposals were submitted to CITES in late April by AEC countries, and together with other co-proponents, they provide an integrated package to protect elephants by strengthening international CITES law.

They include listing all elephants in CITES Appendix I, the closure of domestic ivory markets, the destruction of ivory stockpiles, ending the Decision-Making Mechanism for legalizing trade in ivory, and limiting the export of wild, live African elephants to conservation projects in their natural habitat. Taken together, the proposals would put an end to the ivory trade and afford elephants the highest protection under international law.

Of the 29 countries represented in the Coalition, 25 of them are African elephant range states, comprising the majority (68 percent) of the 37 countries in which African elephants occur in the wild. The package of five proposals is a decisive response to the poaching crisis facing African elephants over the last decade, caused by the legal sale of ivory stockpiles in 2008 with CITES permission. At the height of the killing from 2010 to 2012, at least 100,000 elephants were killed in Africa for their ivory, many of them in AEC countries.

"A global, permanent ban on ivory trade is the only way to ensure the protection of elephants. African countries in the AEC, which are losing their elephants to poachers every day, are blazing the trail to shut down the global ivory market and put an end to this senseless killing forever," said Vera Weber, President of the Swiss-based Franz Weber Foundation, a partner organization of the AEC, which is facilitating the meeting in Montreux.

"The crisis facing the African elephant is still very real, and calls for a global unity of purpose. It is critically important that CITES takes decisive action to ban international and domestic trade in ivory to save elephants from imminent extinction. We are making a collective stand for the long-term survival of elephants throughout Africa and calling on the world to stand with us," said Dr. Andrew Seguya, the Executive Director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

The April submission to CITES followed the Cotonou Declaration in November 2015. The declaration was released after an AEC meeting in Cotonou, Benin, in which the AEC countries reaffirmed their conviction that a "ban on international and domestic trade in ivory is essential for the long-term survival of the African elephant" and committed to "propose and support the listing of all African elephant populations in CITES Appendix I" and to "enact, implement and enforce legislation prohibiting domestic ivory trade and support all proposals and actions at international and national levels to close domestic ivory markets worldwide."

"Our elephants are dying every day. We are appealing for support in our mission to end the trade and for the world to join us in spreading the message that elephants are worth more alive than dead," said Patrick Omondi, Deputy Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service.

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