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article imageNew attempt to protect elephants from poachers fails

By Tim Sandle     Oct 6, 2016 in Environment
A renewed attempt to provide the maximum level of international protection to all African elephants has stalled, with government representatives and campaign groups at a conference in Johannesburg.
At the conference a proposal was put forward by the government of Kenya for greater protection for elephants. While this garnered support, as The Guardian reports, it did not attract the necessary two-thirds majority. The main block to the vote came from the European Union.
The voting revealed differences in opinion among African nations in relation to the best strategy to conserve elephant populations. There is a common view that some form of action is required to address poaching, given that the elephant population has fallen by 30 percent over a seven year period as a direct result of ivory related poaching. However, the level of protection that should be afforded to elephants is a matter of dispute.
The technical issue was whether all elephants, from every African country, should be rated in Appendix I of the CITES protocol (which is the highest classification and gives full protective status) or whether some should remain in a lower category. CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora controls. This is an international framework to control the trade in endangered or protected animal or plant species. This applies to import from or export to third countries of dead or living controlled species, as well as parts or derivatives (such as skin, fur, teeth, shell, feathers or blood and parts of some plants).
Opposition to the move came from Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, who seemed open to keeping some trade in ivory going. This was supported by the European Union, which stated that the southern African elephant populations didn't meet the biological criteria for re-categorization.
The final vote was the vote was 62 in favour with 44 against and 12 abstained, insufficient to carry the measure through.
One campaigner, Dr Roz Reeve from the David Shepherd Foundation was highly critical of the stance by the European Union, telling the BBC: “If it hadn't been for the EU we'd have had elephants on Appendix I by now and that would send a massive signal to the world.”
It was not all bad news for those seeking to protect elephants from poachers. A proposal to open up a new ivory market, in Namibia and Zimbabwe, was also rejected.
More about Poaching, Elephants, Africa, Conservation
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