Re: COP 17: Will CITES Review the Ban on Trade in Ivory?

Sat May 14, 2016 10:30 am

Luckily there is CITES. At least there is a limit to the nature crimes that the countries (Governments) can commit :twisted:

Re: COP 17: Will CITES Review the Ban on Trade in Ivory?

Sat May 14, 2016 11:34 am

Cites is yet another body of toothless, gormless people who monitor what they choose to and overlook everything else which literally gives carte blanche for trade to continue ad nauseum. They are fully aware of the ramifications of the danger of allowing trade in ivory and rhino horn but seem to be somewhat backwards in coming forwards with any meaningful condemnation - meanwhile the slaughter continues!!!

Ivory sales by Zimbabwe and Namibia could ‘create demand spi

Wed May 18, 2016 1:32 pm



IN EARLY May, the governments of Zimbabwe and Namibia took the unusual step of petitioning the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (Cites) to remove their elephants from Cites protection, which currently prohibits them from selling elephant ivory. Arguing that the international ban — imposed in 1989 — on the sale of ivory has been a costly and unsuccessful 26-year “experiment”, officials from the two Southern African countries are trying to make a case for releasing their ivory stockpiles onto the global market and thereby turn a profit.

They argue that the Cites Appendix II listing, which allows only limited trade subject to particular conditions, has not allowed them to realise the asset value of their well managed elephant populations, numbering around 84,000 in Zimbabwe and 24,000 in Namibia. The removal of these elephants from Cites protection would allow them to auction elephant products to any willing buyers, built on the rationale that open trade is the only means by which to overcome the current poaching epidemic.

This rationale relies on a theoretical possibility that open auctions would satiate demand and drive down the price of ivory, thereby reducing the incentive to poach. But shutting down the trade entirely would also reduce the value of ivory to zero, and the incentive to poach elephants would no longer exist. Whether Zimbabwe and Namibia’s arguments hold water requires further interrogation.

First, markets for ivory are fast closing, largely as a result of pressure from elephant range states and the international conservation community. While new demand coming out of Asia in recent years has fuelled a dramatic increase in elephant poaching across Central, East and West Africa, this trend is being short-circuited. China, once a reliable source of demand for ivory, announced in May last year that it would close its domestic market to the trade and shut down its carving industry.

The US — another, if often less recognised, market for ivory — has followed suit, with the Chinese and US governments making a joint announcement to this effect in September. The combination of the two largest markets working together to block the trade will help close the circle of illegal and legal trade in ivory. Legal domestic markets, particularly in East Asia, have until now provided a convenient cover for illegal ivory, undermining the efficacy of the international ban.

If Zimbabwe and Namibia are successful in their proposals, Chinese authorities may choose to limit the duration of their impending ban in response to the signal that there are willing sellers available. This would limit the ban’s efficacy, as it would incentivise speculators to stockpile ivory until the ban is terminated, thereby driving up elephant poaching. For domestic trade bans to drive the ivory price to zero, they should be implemented indefinitely. But this requires all the supply signals to be consistent, which requires all elephant range states to be on the same page.

Second, the relative success both Zimbabwe and Namibia have enjoyed in managing their elephant populations, which has produced large herds (and sometimes large headaches), is by no means guaranteed. Spurred on by unexploited opportunities further south, evidence shows that the poaching pandemic is moving into southern Zambia and Zimbabwe. Indeed, the once healthy elephant populations in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Gabon have been devastated over the last several years as demand for ivory has escalated.

Zimbabwe and Namibia contend, however, that poaching has escalated precisely because ivory has not been available through open auctions on a regular basis. They reckon that the two one-off sales in 1999 and 2008 failed precisely because they sold too small a volume onto the market to satiate demand; this created an artificial sense of scarcity of supply, which drove up prices and fuelled poaching.

But being allowed to sell ivory by open auction may well fuel a further explosion of demand, and there is insufficient data on which to assess whether supply would be able to keep pace with potentially expanding demand. Moreover, whatever stigma effects currently exist through a combination of demand reduction campaign efficacy and an impending domestic trade ban, are likely to be undermined if supply is made legal.

Evidence from China shows that the price of raw ivory in China has fallen by 50% since May last year in the wake of the official announcement to close the domestic market. The new proposals threaten these gains. It is also curious that these countries blame the 1989 Cites ban for the poaching pandemic, and yet have also experienced elephant population growth.

Finally, alarmed by the poaching trend, most African governments of elephant range states are themselves taking collective action through the Elephant Protection Initiative to cut off the trade within their countries. They also insist on maintaining the highest level of protection under Cites — an Appendix I listing that allows no trade. Zimbabwe and Namibia argue, on the contrary, that the prevention of trade in elephant products under Cites has produced a perverse incentive for local communities not to value elephants.

This allegedly accounts for the poaching threat, for instance, in two regions in Zimbabwe where elephant numbers are rapidly declining. But it is hard to see how preventing the trade in ivory constitutes a perverse incentive. A truly perverse incentive would exist if communities and parks perceived that they could make more money from selling elephant products than conserving living elephants.

Zimbabwe and Namibia have introduced explicit division between African range states at a time when being of one mind is crucial to turning the tide against elephant poaching. Though the proposals are likely to fail at the Cites conference in September, they have the potential to create a spike in demand for ivory, especially if these countries choose to abandon or ignore Cites regulations after the convention meeting.

This initiative is a step backwards at a time when a growing coalition of countries from China and the US to Tanzania and Gabon are finally recognising the need to end the ivory trade altogether.

• Alden is a professor at the London School of Economics and Politics. He and Harvey are senior researchers at the SA Institute of International Affairs

Original article:

Re: COP 17: Will CITES Review the Ban on Trade in Ivory?

Wed May 18, 2016 3:51 pm


Re: COP 17: Will CITES Review the Ban on Trade in Ivory?

Thu May 26, 2016 5:51 pm ... vory-sales

Zimbabwe to lobby for lifting of ban on ivory sales

ZIMBABWE will lobby for the lifting of an international ban on ivory sales, saying a controlled marketing system will allow the government to raise money to combat illicit poaching and for conservation programmes.

The safeguarding of Zimbabwe’s elephants "is wholly dependent on establishing regular open-market sales of elephant ivory to fund management and enforcement actions," the government said in a paper that will be presented at a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), scheduled for September in neighbouring SA.

Zimbabwe says its elephant population, estimated at 84,000, is twice what can be supported by available food and land. The country, which is grappling with an economic crisis, said in February it raised $1m from selling elephants to China, where it will continue exporting wildlife as part of conservation efforts.

"Between 2002 and 2014, Zimbabwe is estimated to have lost 439 metric tons of ivory worth $226m to illegal hunting," according to Zimbabwe’s Cites’ proposal seen by Bloomberg and confirmed by the nation’s Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. "Zimbabwe views this as a direct result of the ivory trade ban. The country’s current stockpile of ivory weighs about 70 tons and is worth an estimated $35m.

National parks, which cover about 11% of Zimbabwe’s total land area, are surrounded by "hostile people who are trying to recover their wasted investment in elephants," according to the report. The ban has removed the incentive to protect wildlife, it said.

The government in November said it would deploy soldiers at the country’s game parks to combat poaching, which resulted in the deaths of 77 elephants due to cyanide poisoning at Hwange National Park.

In SA, the Department of Environmental Affairs on Tuesday said it was still to respond to last week’s court ruling which dismissed its bid to uphold a seven-year ban on the domestic trade in rhino horn.

The High Court in Pretoria lifted the domestic ban on the trade in rhino horn in November 2015 and upheld that decision in January after South African game breeders John Hume and Johan Kruger argued that it was their constitutional right to sell rhino horn, a renewable resource.

The judgment has been suspended pending the Department’s appeal, which was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Appeal on Friday.

However, the decision has no bearing on a ban on international trade in rhino horn.

Possibilities open to the department include changing legislation or making the issuing of permits — required to buy, sell or possess rhino horn — so onerous that the domestic trade is effectively stifled, officials have said off the record.

It was not clear if the department would lodge a final appeal with the Constitutional Court.

According to the latest figures from SA’s Private Rhino Owners’ Association, about 6,200 rhinos are in private hands, about a third of the national population. Rhino horn can be harvested as it grows back and it can be removed from a tranquilised animal.

Supporters of rhino horn trade say the money earned could be used for conservation and to pay for security. Opponents counter that a legal trade could tempt poachers who kill rhinos to launder their "blood" horns with clean supplies.

Bloomberg, Reuters

Re: COP 17: Will CITES Review the Ban on Trade in Ivory?

Thu May 26, 2016 6:27 pm

It is a bit risky to equate legal trade in ivory to that of rhino horn, as rhino horn can be harvested without killing the animal.

But nothing seems to be working regarding poaching of both, to be honest, and the ivory stockpiles are gigantic in African countries.

Make no mistake, Zim and Nam want foreign exchange and are not being altruistic.

But only one way to find out? :yes:

Re: COP 17: Will CITES Review the Ban on Trade in Ivory?

Thu May 26, 2016 6:35 pm

It is not an easy one :-?

In any case the poaching has to be stopped. That should be first on the agenda.

"When you have managed to stop the poaching, we will consider lifting the ban" O** :yes: :yes:

Re: COP 17: Will CITES Review the Ban on Trade in Ivory?

Fri Aug 26, 2016 11:28 am

An article looking at proposed split listing @CITES on ivory trade this autumn ... ade-cites/

Re: COP 17: Will CITES Review the Ban on Trade in Ivory?

Fri Aug 26, 2016 11:38 am

Thank you, Klipspringer \O

There are going to be some heated discussions at the meetings :shock:

Re: COP 17: Will CITES Review the Ban on Trade in Ivory?

Thu Sep 29, 2016 10:13 am

The Conversation | 33 minutes ago

Are the rights of communities to development, food security & cultural heritage undermined by conservation?

This article first appeared on The Conversation.

The Conversation

182 member states of the world’s biggest convention on wildlife conservation have committed at this year’s gathering to consider how trade decisions impact community livelihoods.

The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (Cites) regulates trade in threatened species. But can its decisions improve livelihoods? More pointedly, can its decisions undermine the rights of communities to development, food security or their cultural heritage?

These questions feed into a wider debate about the relationship between conservation and development. Models of “fortress conservation”, “green grabbing” or “fences and fines” have been seen to place the interests of nature ahead of the development needs of local communities. This has generated resentment among some communities towards wildlife protection.

A broad range of multilateral frameworks such as Rio+20, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Sustainable Development Goals seek to address this. They envision a mutually beneficial and synergistic relationship between conservation and development objectives.

Cites decisions can improve the livelihoods of people who live in Africa. But only if the convention connects with other multilateral environmental efforts to protect biodiversity. It also needs to avoid imposing external norms without due regard for local realities. For example, in the absence of any ivory trade, member states should commit to other ways to finance conservation and improve local communities’ livelihoods. After all, these are the people on the front line of the battle against poaching.


Probably the most controversial issue at this year’s Cites Conference of the Parties (CoP17) is the question of how to protect African elephants. This is an instructive lens through which to address how trade decisions may impact livelihoods.

From 2007 to 2014 roughly 27,000 African elephants a year have been killed illegally to satisfy demand for ivory in East Asia. But the threat to the elephants is geographically differentiated.

Cites protects some species from trade altogether by listing them on Appendix I if they are critically endangered. It lists other species on Appendix II if trade in that species will not undermine its sustainability, but requires regulation. Species can also be listed by regional population. For example, all African elephants are listed under Appendix I, except for the populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, which are listed on Appendix II.

The elephant populations in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe are in healthy condition. These countries proposed that a decision-making mechanism be established to allow trade in ivory from Appendix II listed elephants. The proposal was rejected by a two-thirds majority at the convention.

Namibia and Zimbabwe have submitted additional proposals to have their elephant populations removed from Cites appendix protection listing altogether. This would allow them to trade their ivory in any way they see fit.

These countries argue that proceeds from ivory sales could make a vital contribution to financing conservation efforts. Communities would acquire some of the proceeds from ivory stockpile sales. This would provide them with an incentive to conserve elephant populations. And elephant numbers would rise as a result of conservation efforts boosted by regulated trade generating revenue for communities through tourism.

Proponents of trade legalisation argue that efforts to ban ivory sales have failed and in fact have boosted corruption and illicit trade.

These arguments carry understandable appeal but also entail risks. A decision to trade may have irreversible consequences. For instance, the natural rate of ivory supply seems unlikely to be able to satisfy demand and runs the risk of igniting currently dormant demand. Plus, maintaining a high price for ivory would maintain the current incentive to poach.

South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe are correct to point out that financing for conservation is a serious challenge. But it does not follow that a regulated trade in ivory is the solution.


A new reality is emerging in which the world’s largest domestic ivory markets are likely to be shut down. The US has recently closed theirs and China is likely to follow suit soon. In the absence of trading ivory, other solutions have to be found to fund conservation and improve the livelihoods of communities living on the front line of conservation efforts.

Some suggestions that have been put forward include:

- A global biodiversity tax “to fund protected area management at scale in areas where there are no alternative forms of conservation land use”. Global consumers can currently pay for carbon credits, for instance, but a tax is a more efficient way of achieving a similar end.

- Enabling communities living with or near wildlife to become drivers of conservation. Community members can no longer be seen as passive beneficiaries of tourism partnerships.

- Better governance structures for communities to derive benefits from protecting natural resources. Community based natural resource management appears to be working in places like Namibia. A well-governed hunting industry seems to be a key success factor here, but this is debatable. Either way, well-governed hunting is not easily transposed into other contexts. The hunting industry is often guilty of regulatory abuse. Because of such abuse, Botswana has chosen to abandon hunting altogether. Some experts worry, though, that this decision may have unintended negative consequences.

- A move away away from community trusts towards community land rights. The challenges faced by Botswana demonstrate the difficulty with trusts. Community trusts apply for concessions over communal land and are racked with governance difficulties. Community land rights, to the contrary, allow individual communities to make decisions about how they use their own land. Conservation land-use incentives are built in.


Finally, the reality is that global norms often don’t fit with local value sets.

A crucial interlocutor between supply and demand is values – what people believe about elephants and ivory. This means that a total ivory trade ban may not produce an immediate reversal of the poaching pandemic. Communities that resent the imposition of external norms may respond by poaching.

Being aware of these dynamics may go a long way to improving the probability of conservation success. Species survival ultimately depends on improving community livelihoods and understanding local values.

Ross Harvey is senior researcher in natural resource governance (Africa), South African Institute of International Affairs. ... -in-Africa