Recent elephant studies have delivered bad news for the species. African savanna elephants declined by 30% between 2007 and 2014. And African forest elephants could take a century to recover from the rampant poaching they’ve endured.
The good news is that the world’s experts and conservationists – including countries like the U.S., France, Gabon, Kenya and Malawi – agree it’s time to end the elephant poaching crisis by closing domestic ivory markets. Indeed, last week the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congress voted to pass Motion #007, which urges the governments of countries with domestic ivory markets to take all necessary legislative and regulatory efforts to close them. It encourages countries that have made progress towards banning their legal ivory markets like the U.S. to share their knowledge with interested nations. And it encourages IUCN members to call for enhanced elephant protections at the 17th meeting of the parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in two weeks, where parties will vote on a similar resolution on ivory market closures submitted by African governments.
Unfortunately, this battle was hard won with vociferous opposition from South Africa, Japan, Namibia and other countries that wish to continue the ivory trade (for a detailed play by play, see my colleague Andrew Wetzler's Twitter Feed). And you can bet CITES will be similarly challenging, with these countries lobbying FOR increased ivory trade and AGAINST elephant protections. But we’ll keep fighting the good fight, and will keep you updated!