March 23, 2010

Ivory Sales Rejected by UN Wildlife Council

The United Nations has rejected proposed one-time ivory sales, giving conservationists a rare victory during the annual Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Doha, Qatar.

Tanzania and Zambia had both requested permission to sell stockpiled ivory. Tanzania asked for permission to sell 200,000 pounds to Japan and China, but their request was denied by the U.N. for fear it would contribute to an already existing rise in poaching. Shortly thereafter, Zambia withdrew a similar request involving 48,000 pounds of ivory.

Central and eastern African countries argued against the proposals, which they claimed would negatively impact the already declining elephant population on the continent.

"People born in 100 years, they should be able to see an elephant," Noah Wekesa, Kenya's Minister of Forestry and Wildlife Noah Wekesa said according to the Associated Press (AP), while also calling for a 20-year moratorium on ivory sales. "We should not lose this heritage that we have. We have a duty to make sure we increase the numbers of elephants."

"We are sitting on a treasure that we are not allowed to use to help our population, to help the poor build schools and roads," countered Stanslaus Komba, from Tanzania's ministry of natural resources, according to a March 22 AFP article.

Also on Monday, the CITES panel agreed for increased enforcement against the poaching of African and Asian rhinos, which is reportedly at a 15-year high. Earlier during the conference, legislation to help protect Atlantic bluefin tuna, polar bears, and sharks were defeated.


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