A CITES meeting that could determine whether there will be a world ivory ban begins Sept. 24 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The 17th annual meeting of the CITES Conference of Parties is set to run through Oct. 5 and will include individuals and organizations around the globe who are for or against a world ivory ban, as well as a ban on ancient and other ivories. CITES stands for “Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora,” and is “an international agreement among governments … to ensure international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.”
Elephant Protection Association officials indicate they expect animal rights groups to push for terminating “sustainable use” as a means of conserving any listed or endangered wildlife, which includes elephants and the trade of ivory. For U.S. owners of legal elephant ivory, this could at the very least mean losing the narrow “De Minimis Exception” in the recent Federal Domestic Ivory Ban instituted in July. Though it allows an extremely low amount of per-person trade in elephant ivory, the De Minimis Exception does allow some of it.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) fighting for a worldwide elephant ivory ban want CITES to list all African elephants on Appendix I. If the NGOs are successful, it will lead to even more pressure on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to list all elephants as endangered, too. According to the Elephant Protection Association, the FWS has indicated that if CITES puts elephants on the endangered list, FWS would abolish the De Minimis Exception. But that’s not all.
The Elephant Protection Association’s Rob Mitchell reports that the petition to declare elephants endangered is already under review. “I don’t know low long before they will reach a final determination, but it won’t surprise me one bit if they try to time it to coincide with [the Sept. 24-Oct. 5 meeting],” he notes. In fact, “FWS could make the determination even if CITES does not list all elephants on Appendix I.”
For more information, stay tuned to www.elephantprotection.org. (Editor’s note: The Elephant Protection Association is building a new website. You also can stay updated on elephant ivory news by watching videos from The Conservation Imperative on the Association’s Facebook page.)