VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
For the last nine years, CITES parties have been negotiating a “decision-making mechanism,” (DMM), which would establish a process for a future trade in ivory. Today, the parties of CITES voted to end the long-running discussion.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature released its 2016 African Elephant Status Report this morning, and the results are sobering: Africa has approximately 415,000 elephants, a net decline of more than 110,000 from the beginning of 2007 to the end of 2015.
Law enforcement agencies, NGOs, and business leaders gathered from across the world in Washington this week to share information and expertise and organize a concerted strategy to combat the global scourge of wildlife trafficking.
The unprecedented collaboration was heralded at the National Geographic Society’s headquarters on Tuesday, at an event held against the backdrop of recent news of a catastrophic plunge in the last wild populations of African elephants and other species. The meeting also set the stage for CITES CoP17, a conference in Johannesburg at the end of this month that will bring more than a hundred governments together to review the planet’s biggest wildlife challenges and opportunities.
Things have improved since the dark days of 2011 and 2012 when ivory poaching across Africa appeared to be spiralling out of control and conservations began to contemplate the unthinkable: the extinction of the African elephant. On World Elephant Day 2016 there are grounds for cautious optimism. Nevertheless, it is too soon to assert that Africa’s elephants are safe.
They are big, intelligent and have a complex, multi-tiered society. They are variously loved, revered, admired, feared and sometimes abused for our entertainment. But elephants are not just ornaments that we should preserve so our children can share the world with such wondrous non-human beings. On World Elephant Day, Ian Redmond, one of the original ELEFRIENDS (who was recently trampled by one of his study animals — just a misunderstanding, he insists) reflects on the relevance of elephants to climate change.
As night falls on the Greater Kruger conservation area in northeast South Africa, adventurous elephants investigate the edge of the lengthy fence that holds them out of neighboring croplands. Cleverly and meticulously they probe for weaknesses in the barrier and work their way out. Moving through rugged and unfamiliar territory, they quickly happen upon the R40, a busy arterial road where they encounter speeding traffic, unsuspecting motorists — and the potential threat of serious injury to people and elephants.
The significant upward trends in elephant poaching have stabilized, but African elephants continue to face serious threats, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) said in a news statement today.
The report is being released in advance of the next major conference of the world’s wildlife trade regulating treaty, in September, when world governments will make crucial decisions on the conservation of elephants and trade in ivory.
A swift and global conservation response is needed to prevent the world’s gorillas, lions, tigers, rhinos, and other iconic terrestrial megafauna from being lost forever, an influential group of international scientists reported today in the journal BioScience.
Their analysis, entitled Saving the World’s Terrestrial Megafauna, covers the precipitous loss of large animal populations around the globe. The report included a 13-point declaration by 43 scientists and conservationists calling for acknowledgement that a “business as usual” mentality will result in massive species extinction. Read the declaration and study the maps showing the global decline of big land animals.
By Maraya Cornell
A recent article in the New York Times casts Botswana’s hunting ban, enacted just under two years ago, as the disastrous move of a nation acting under the spell of Western animal rights activism.
The author, Norimitsu Onishi, who is the paper’s bureau chief for southern Africa, blames the ban for swelling the number of dangerous animals that terrorize villagers in Sankuyo, where his story is set. And he claims that Sankuyo’s land is “peripheral,” too remote for photo tourism to make up for the income the village lost when trophy hunting ceased.
Both of these conclusions are dubious at best.