US explains opposition to proposal to upgrade African elephants to Appendix I

Elephants. File picture.

Elephants. File picture.

The head of the US delegation to CITES CoP 17 said the proposal presented a risk for the resumption of commercial ivory trade.

On Monday, during the 17th meeting of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the CITES parties considered a proposal to include all populations of African elephants in Appendix I through the transfer from Appendix II of the populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

“We applaud the leadership and dedication of Kenya, Gabon, Chad, Botswana, and the many other proposing and supporting range states,” said US Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe, head of the US delegation to CITES CoP 17.

Notwithstanding the fact that their proposal was defeated, elephants and elephant conservation have overwhelmingly won the day at this CoP. Their courage and passion have helped fuel a great series of successes, said Ashe.

“All routes to opening legal ivory trade have been blocked. We’ve urged member nations to close domestic ivory markets that contribute to poaching or wildlife trafficking,” he added.

“We’ve strengthened provisions to identify and potentially sanction nations that are not taking adequate steps to stem this crisis.”

However, the US voted no, on this proposal because it opened up the potential that member nations would take a reservation and use a victory on Appendix I uplisting as a back door to resume trade.

In fact, during discussion on the proposal, Namibia explicitly stated its intention to take a reservation.

“We are unalterably opposed to resumption of commercial ivory trade, under any terms. Therefore, because of the risk it represented, we felt compelled to oppose a proposal that we would otherwise support,” stated Ashe.

African News Agency (ANA)


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