Horrendous Elephant Poaching and Ivory Auctions
The magnificent elephant generally has no natural predators due to their massive size — other than mankind, for which ivory poaching and trophy hunting is a perilous crisis. Recent auctions have proven the industry to be a highly lucrative ‘business’ and may have verily opened the floodgates to massive poaching, leading to annihilation and extinction of these stately creatures.
Namibia auctioned its 9 tons of ivory on October 28 raising $1.2 million. Zimbabwe and Botswana have also auctioned their ivory to the exclusive Chinese and Japanese buyers making $480,000 and $1.1 million respectively. South Africa auctioned the largest cache of ivory — 51 tons — to conclude this highly controversial sale.
Renowned Kenyan conservationist, Dr. Richard Leakey, the founding Chairman for WildlifeDirect, issued a statement this week denouncing the ongoing CITES-sanctioned one-off auctions of ivory stockpiles.
The conservationist said that the auction would open up the market for illegal ivory and result in poaching, lamenting the inclusion of China — the largest destination for illegal ivory — into the legal ivory trade.
I am deeply concerned about the ongoing one-off ivory auction in South Africa.” said Dr. Leakey.
“I have spent many years looking at issues of elephant conservation and ivory trade and played a major role in successfully eliminating the massive ivory poaching that characterized what is considered the darkest period for African elephants in Kenya in the late 1980’s.”
“I believe that auctioning the ivory stockpiles would cause poaching to increase particularly in the central, eastern and western African elephant range states where poaching is not yet properly controlled.”
“According to the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the parties to the auction, the funds generated from this sale will be channeled directly into conservation. I am skeptical and wonder if there is a way of knowing whether these funds will actually help conservation.”
“The entry of China into the legal trade is also a cause of concern for me. It is hard to believe that a country which in 2002 scored only 5.6 out of 100 points in the CITES Elephant Trade Information Systems (ETIS) ranking — which ranks countries on how effectively they tackle illegal ivory — could have scored 63 points this year.” Dr. Leakey said. “China has admitted loosing track of 120 tons of ivory from the government’s official stockpiles in the past 12 years.”