VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
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The price of ivory in China has dropped by 2/3 since 2014. Can that help save living elephants?
These slideshow images, taken by Paul Hilton for WCS in 2016, illustrate the multitude of challenges faced in conserving the Sumatran elephant. These include the conversion of forest habitat to oil palm plantations, degradation of forest habitat by illegal logging, conflicts with farmers through crop-raiding, and being illegally hunted for their ivory tusks.
As the government rolls out the closing of the market, WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) is observing hopeful results as in the Save the Elephants report issued this week. We believe that the ban has played a significant role in de-valuing ivory. We also believe that the ban has increased motivation for enforcement agencies to enhance actions on illegal ivory trade.
In Gabon’s Minkébé National Park, forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) declined by approximately 80 percent between 2004 and 2014, as reported in a recent publication supported in part by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Both savanna and forest elephants are declining across most of the African continent driven primarily by Asia’s demand for ivory. What is happening in Minkébé National Park is particularly alarming, as this area was once home to the highest densities of forest elephants in Central Africa and was established as a stronghold and sanctuary for the species. What do these findings tell us about the future of forest elephants more broadly, and how should we prioritize efforts to save the species? Dr. Richard Ruggiero, chief of the Service’s Division of International Conservation, shares his thoughts.
Nicky Campbell is a journalist, broadcaster and wildlife campaigner. He and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust have released the “Sacred Eyes” music video to mark the 40th anniversary of the Trust’s Orphans Project, which has saved hundreds of juvenile elephants left stranded by the slaughter of their mothers for ivory.
Fingers crossed that China is serious, and will effectively enforce their announced ivory ban. We are all counting on it.
Notes WCS VP for Species Conservation Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, “What the authors of the new PNAS study have shown us is that ivory, once it’s poached from elephants in Africa, is going very rapidly straight into the trade. This is all new ivory that is getting caught going into the illegal markets. It’s not old ivory from stockpiles. And that’s somewhat of a surprise. We thought that stockpiles were probably leaking into the market. But it appears that stockpiled ivory is either being protected or has been destroyed in one of the many initiatives to burn or crush that material.”
The Great Elephant Census showed that important elephant populations persist in several key range areas that historically supported large numbers of elephants – so there is still much to fight for in the battle to save Africa’s elephants. Fortunately, there are some signs of hope – both in sites covered by the GEC and other elephant sites.
Acutely, an elephant’s problem is ivory. Chronically the problem is shrinking space. Rich or poor, humans seem too much of a good thing. One wonders where this trend of growing human numbers and appetites, afflicting elephants and humans alike, is headed.
With roars that rend the African night, lions have captured our imaginations since the dawn of humankind. “Lions have long been celebrated in art and literature throughout the world,” says ecologist Craig Packer, National Geographic Explorer and Expeditions Council grantee, and director of the University of Minnesota Lion Center. In the face of habitat loss and…
Notes Susan Lieberman, Wildlife Conservation Society VP for International Policy and head of the WCS CITES delegation, “Science and wildlife conservation prevailed at CITES CoP17. The decisions made by the gathering countries were based on the best available scientific information. Further, we were encouraged that governments fully embraced the precautionary principle by making decisions in the best interest of the species in the wild. After attending 11 CoPs, I strongly believe this was among the most successful CoP ever for wildlife.”
Today’s the day everyone at CITES CoP17 has been waiting for: elephants and rhinos. The debates were long, heated, and emotional. Here’s what happened: Elephants There were three proposals on the table. Two from Namibia and Zimbabwe proposed re-opening the ivory trade, and a third, from a coalition of African countries did the opposite—it wanted…
By Katarzyna Nowak and Keith Lindsay The European Union (EU) – a regional economic integration organization of 28 member states – became the 181st party to the major wildlife treaty, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in July 2015. This month became the first time the EU votes…
The global community today further chipped away at the elephant ivory market. The countries gathered at CITES CoP17 adopted a resolution recommending the closure of domestic elephant ivory markets around the world. Traffickers and criminal networks are losing their markets and losing their financial incentives to illegally kill Africa’s elephants for their ivory.
While that “regulated” ivory sale idea might sound nice on paper, experts say it has now been officially debunked.