International Ban in Ivory Trade Remains Intact at CITES

Today, CITES countries rejected all three elephant listing proposals at CoP17. Namibia and Zimbabwe submitted proposals to open international trade in their ivory, while a separate proposal called for elephant populations in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to be uplisted to Appendix I.

In response, WWF issued the following statement from Ginette Hemley, Head of Delegation to CITES CoP17:

“These decisions have closed all potential avenues to a resumption in international ivory trade, paving the way for the world to unite behind efforts to crack down on the illegal ivory trade.

"African elephants are in steep decline across much of the continent due to poaching for their ivory, and opening up any legal trade in ivory would have complicated efforts to conserve them.

"Rather than vote to resume trade, countries here at CITES rightly chose to reinforce the existing global ban on ivory trade by calling for the closure of domestic ivory markets and strengthening the national ivory action plan process.

"These are critical actions for securing the future of Africa's elephants. None of these proposals would have offered elephant populations any greater protection from the poachers. Indeed, the proposal to uplist four southern African populations to Appendix I could well have opened a back door to legal international trade.

"In fact, Namibia said during the debate that it would have no option but to enter a reservation if the proposal had been accepted. This would have exempted it from CITES regulations regarding elephants and allowed it to legally trade ivory without any CITES oversight. Namibia has a proud wildlife conservation record, but this would have been a deeply regrettable step.

"Now that the debate over whether to trade or not to trade is over, countries around the world must turn the tough talk we have heard here in Johannesburg into tough measures on the ground."