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CITES Under Pressure to Crack Down on Elephant Trade and Loosen Restriction on Ivory Sales

Seized ivory elephant tusks are displayed during a press conference at the Kwai Chung Customhouse Cargo Examination Compound in Hong Kong on February 1, 2019. Hong Kong customs officers unveiled a record seizure of pangolin scales on February 1, the latest huge haul to underscore the city's central role in the lucrative and booming illegal wildlife trade. Anthony WALLACE / AFP

Wednesday marked World Elephant Day (yes, apparently elephants also have their own day) and that sparked a heated discussion over the African ivory trade and Zimbabwe’s controversial sales of young elephants to China. While conservationists and those who advocate for more relaxed wildlife trade regulations differ on pretty much everything, they both seem to agree that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species or CITES is not helpful.

What Should CITES Do?

  • PERMIT IVORY AND RHINO HORN SALES: “At approximately $80 for each 9-gram bag to buyers in China, Vietnam or elsewhere, the conservation fund would soon be knee-deep in the money it needs to care for the animals and their habitat,” said Harris of the IEI. If whole horns were sold to collectors, that would add even more money for conservation purposes. (THE CHRONICLE)
  • HALT THE CHINA-ZIMBABWE TRADE IN LIVE ELEPHANTS: “CITES [needs] to finally enforce its legal mandate that compels it to stop the Zimbabwean government from brutalizing its own elephant population.” (DAILY MAVERICK)
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