Elephants in Geneva - CITES meeting agenda

Adam Roberts, Acting CEO of Born Free Foundation, explains the elephant agenda a

Next week, the 65th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee will be held in Geneva, between 7 and 11 July 2014. So what's on the agenda for elephants?

Back in 2007, CITES decided it needed to establish a mechanism for any legal international ivory trade which may be approved in the future.

Since then there have been record breaking levels of elephant killing and illegal trade in their ivory, and as Born Free has helped to illustrate through its recent Ivory’s Curse report, organised crime is now universally recognised as being heavily involved in the illegal ivory trade.

So Born Free believes the decision to set up a mechanism for a possible future trade in ivory is not only out of date but dangerously so. When so much money stands to be gained, mere discussion of such a process at an international forum such as CITES endangers elephants across Africa and Asia. So at the Standing Committee meeting which Born Free is attending next month, there will be a clear call for a suspension of that decision.

Also up for discussion will be a call for a ban on ivory trade within individual countries which are members of the CITES Convention and to independently audit, publicly declare and then destroy ivory stockpiles.

All these actions that Born Free wants are critical in sending a clear message that countries are opposed to poaching, are determined to prevent seized ivory from re-entering the market, and are contributing to reducing demand for ivory.

The other key issue close to Born Free’s heart is the trade in live Asian elephants.

With good reason when it comes to elephants, focus has been on African elephant poaching and trade in their ivory. However, the scourge of illegal trade within and between countries home to the endangered Asian elephant must not be overlooked. As we know from our work in Sri Lanka, the illegal capture and trade against the backdrop of increasing conflict between elephants and rural communities that live alongside them is putting severe pressure on conservation efforts to ensure a thriving population makes it through to another generation.

And popular holiday destination Thailand has remaining just between 1,000 and 3,500 wild elephants and a captive population of at least 3,000. Over a recent 18 month period more than 80 elephants were reportedly laundered into the tourism industry. And more fall victim to the brutal training methods which make calves more manageable in this industry.

So Born Free will be calling for countries to put in place and strengthen laws, regulations and critically, their enforcement, to prevent illegal trade in live Asian elephants.

During that week we’ll also be blogging and posting short videos of the blow by blow action as it unfolds in the meeting halls so stay tuned.

Watch a short video explaining the issues impacting elephants at the 65th CITES Standing Committee meeting



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