The IUCN voted overwhelmingly to urge governments to close all domestic ivory markets.
Spurred on by an aerial survey which covered 18 countries and employed dozens of airplanes, it was overseen by 90 scientists. The subsequent study, known as the Great Elephant Census, estimated a population of 352,271 savanna elephants, a stunning plummet of about 30 percent from 2007 to 2014.
As Danny Auron, from Avaaz, expressed, “Every 15 minutes an elephant is slaughtered for its tusks, and at this rate they’ll be gone forever in a few short years.”
Over this past week, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s World Conservation Congress has been at work in Honolulu, Hawaii, and a coalition of countries, including the US, France, Gabon, Kenya and Malawi, spoke in favor of a motion that calls for every country to ban their internal trade of ivory. The international trade in ivory was banned in 1989.
Delegates from Japan, Namibia and South Africa argued against closing domestic ivory markets as long as they are regulated. South Africa and Namibia even threatened to end their membership of IUCN over the wording of the motion, according to sources at the Congress.
But, as Joseph Moravec pointed out, “As long as there is still ANY legal market for elephant ivory, there will be poaching and trafficking.”
After two days of intense and robust debate, motion 007 was passed un-amended with groundswell support as the Congress draws to a close.
After all, “If we can’t save the African elephant, what is the hope of conserving the rest of Africa’s wildlife?” elephant ecologist, Mike Chase, the lead researcher of the Census, said in a statement. “I am hopeful that, with the right tools, research, conservation efforts and political will, we can help conserve elephants for decades to come.”
The final motion is available here.