EU urged to shut down ivory market

Written by Martin Banks on 27 August 2019 in News
News

Animals rights organisations say elephants “are in crisis” now, with 20,000 killed each year.

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock


The EU has revealed that it will soon be introducing new regulations to help combat the trade in ivory.

The announcement was made on Wednesday at the 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP18) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

No specific details of the proposed measures have yet been disclosed.

Earlier, a coalition of 30 African countries in favour of elephant protection had strongly criticised the “failure” of the EU – and Japan - to close their markets to the trade.


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The conference in Switzerland was told that elephants “are in crisis” with at least 20,000 being illegally killed each year for their ivory.

It is estimated that on average around 55 elephants are poached every day in Africa – equivalent to about one every 26 minutes.

Matt Collis, head of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) delegation at CITES, welcomed news that the EU proposes fresh action but said more needs to be done.

IFAW says that current EU regulations “afford too many opportunities for criminals to pass off ivory from poached elephants as antiques and export to other markets around the world.”

Speaking on Wednesday, Collis said: “We congratulate the many countries, including China, the US, UK and others who have taken or announced measures to close their ivory markets.”

“We urge countries whose legal domestic markets remain open, particularly Japan and the EU, to close them as a matter of urgency" Matt Collis, International Policy Director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

“Legal ivory markets and a lack of action against large illegal markets in certain countries continue to provide opportunities for criminal syndicates to traffic ivory.”

“We urge countries whose legal domestic markets remain open, particularly Japan and the EU, to close them as a matter of urgency, and hope they will be in a position to report back on such steps at the next CITES conference.”

IFAW, he said, believes that, until such markets are shut down, efforts to end the "poaching crisis" and stop criminal syndicates from trafficking ivory will be frustrated.

During a conference debate on domestic ivory markets, the EU representatives told delegates the European commission would soon be introducing new regulations.

Collis added: “IFAW is pleased to hear the EU intends to come forward with revised regulations for its ivory market. IFAW has long been calling for such measures and we await further detail with interest.”

“Any changes must shut down ivory markets in the EU with all but extremely limited exemptions, in line with actions taken by other nations like China, the US and the UK.”

The forum as a whole agreed to ask countries to report back on what action they are taking.

“Any changes must shut down ivory markets in the EU with all but extremely limited exemptions, in line with actions taken by other nations like China, the US and the UK” Matt Collis, IFAW

Governments at the ongoing CITES conference, however, refused to tighten language in a resolution to "unequivocally" call for the closure of all domestic legal ivory markets.

Instead, they accepted a compromise to ask countries that have not closed domestic markets to report back on measures they are taking at the next CITES conference.

The so-called Conference of Parties (CoP18) of CITES is currently meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. It goes on until August 28.

Proposals to address the listing status of elephants on the CITES appendices, which will determine if future sales of stockpiled ivory are allowed or not, are scheduled to be introduced on Thursday.

IFAW, whose experts are attending the conference, works in more than 40 countries, to rescue and protect animals and their habitats.

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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