Should Ivory Trade Ban Be Relaxed?
International ivory trade has been banned for 18 years now, and while elephants may be happy with that situation, some African countries are not. South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe want the trade ban to be relaxed, allowing annual quotas with profits from ivory sales going into conservation efforts. This week, talks at the triennial meeting of the 171-nation Conference on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) tried to negotiate a resolution to the issue, but ended in a deadlock that isn't likely to be resolved any time soon.
Elephant populations have rebounded in some parts of Africa since the ivory trade was outlawed in 1989, but rampant poaching still exists, and the international watchdog group TRAFFIC has observed a dramatic rise in illegal ivory trade, especially in China, over the last two years. Kenya, Mali, and 21 other African nations argued that easing the ivory ban would only serve to encourage the poachers and make it even easier to smuggle ivory from illegally slain elephants.
CITES did allow South Africa, Namibia and Botswana to conduct a one-time sale of 60 metric tons of ivory which has been stockpiled from elephants who have died of natural causes over the last two decades. Funds from the sale will be used for conservation efforts.
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