Posted: 16 Oct 2012 03:21 AM PDT

Tanzania chasing ivory money

Despite the international ivory trade ban, Tanzania will seek approval to sell 101 tonnes of ivory at the next meeting of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) in March 2013.

A similar application was rejected two years ago, based largely on the result of investigations which showed that Tanzania was suffering from extensive elephant poaching, and that law enforcement was wholly inadequate to control this poaching crisis.

So have Tanzania’s circumstances changed?

To qualify for a green light from CITES, countries proposing trade in ivory must demonstrate that the trade will not be detrimental to the survival of elephants, they have full control of their internal ivory markets, and that adequate mechanisms are in place to prevent poaching and illegal trade.  In 2010, Tanzania was unable to demonstrate any of this, which led to the rejection of their request to trade.

From Born Free’s perspective, the situation for elephants in Tanzania has not improved.

Indeed, indications are that the situation is actually becoming worse and worse – incidence of elephant poaching are regularly reported as are seizures of large quantities of illegal ivory. The level of elephant poaching is dramatic, 42% of Tanzania’s elephant population was poached in the last 3 years, representing a staggering 31,348 elephants (or 29 elephants poached per/day).

Tanzania’s request is being met by widespread condemnation and incredulity in the face of the current poaching epidemic. Since the ivory trade ban was put in place in 1989, two legal ‘one off’ sales of ivory have taken place, in 1999 and 2008, releasing over 150 tonnes of ivory into the market.

Born Free believes that these sales have enabled unscrupulous criminals to launder illegal ivory into legal markets and have enhanced demand for ivory in China and other consumer States.  Elephants are dying across Africa as a result.

Born Free will be joining the fight against Tanzania’s proposal.   We will keep you posted on this and other proposals being made to CITES ahead of the forthcoming Conference of the Parties in Bangkok next year.

For more information about elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade, and what you can to help, visit:

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