*NEWS*U.S. MAJOR ILLEGAL IVORY IMPORTER
*NEWS*U.S. MAJOR ILLEGAL IVORY IMPORTER
2007-06-07 at 2:59:00 pm #18016
US ‘major illegal ivory importer’
The report’s authors found thousands of ivory items for sale
The US has become a major importer of illegal ivory, according to a report from the British organisation Care for the Wild International (CWI).The conservation group’s assessment is based on more than 1,000 visits to shops by its investigators.CWI also notes that the internet is an increasingly important conduit for the ivory trade.Leading online auction site eBay has announced it will prevent ivory being traded internationally from its sites.Its announcement followed an investigation by another conservation group, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw), which recently documented the scale of ivory movements on eBay.
The CWI report was released here at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) summit.The group’s consultants Esmond Martin and Daniel Stiles visited shops in 15 US cities, finding more than 23,000 pieces of ivory on sale.They ranged from small trinkets costing about $50 (£25) to large sculptures priced upwards of $400,000 (£200,000).With the exception of a small number of hunting trophies, any new ivory coming into the US must be an illegal import.The international trade was banned in 1989 after indiscriminate hunting had halved the African elephant population in a decade.The only legal exports from Africa since then involve a one-off sale of stockpiled ivory from Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe into Japan. But re-export from Japan is also illegal.CWI is calling on US authorities to step up enforcement of international and domestic laws.
Threatened organisms listed on three appendices depending on level of risk
Appendix 1 – all international trade banned
Appendix 2 – international trade monitored and regulated
Appendix 3 – trade bans by individual governments, others asked to assist
“Uplisting” – moving organism to a more protective appendix, “downlisting” – the reverse Conferences of the Parties (COPs) held every three years
CITES administered by UN Environment Programme (Unep)While applauding the efforts of customs forces to seize consignments of ivory, it says monitoring and enforcement at the retail level is virtually non-existent.”I never spoke to a single shop owner who said anyone came to visit,” noted Esmond Martin.US assistant secretary of state Claudia McMurray admitted that local level enforcement might be lacking.”If we catch it coming into the US then it’s clearly illegal,” she said, “but if it’s in a state that doesn’t have laws against the trade in ivory, then the chances are they won’t have enforcement,” she told BBC News.A second limited sale of stockpiled southern African ivory has just received final approval, and more are being sought at this meeting.CWI chief executive Barbara Maas said the US findings suggested no more exports should be approved.”We feel it’s not safe to loosen trade restraints further,” she told BBC News.”If [the importers] can evade customs forces even in a well-resourced country like the US, they can do it anywhere.”
Following Ifaw’s report on the internet wildlife trade, Bidding for Extinction, the organisation has been working with eBay to tighten things up.Ifaw found more than 9,000 wild animals and animal products on sale within a single week, and that from looking only at English language websites.
EBay has now responded by pledging to stop international sale of banned goods.
“It’s the right thing to do,” said Matt Halprin, eBay’s vice president of policy management.”By strengthening our policy we give sellers a clear and consistent policy that in turn provides confidence for those people who wish to buy legitimate and legal ivory items.”
The company says it will take down any adverts featuring an international shipping option.
Horn trade pressures some rhinos
Across Africa as a whole, rhinos have been on the increase
A rise in poaching has put some rhino populations at risk of extinction.The wildlife trade organisation Traffic has documented a five-fold increase in the volume of rhino horn entering the illegal market between 2000 and 2005.The populations most affected are in western and central Africa and Nepal, with one sub-species in Cameroon believed extinct already.However, overall, rhinos are doing well with Africa-wide numbers increasing by about 6% every year.The Traffic report was released at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) summit in The Hague.”We are seeing an increase in the quantity of horn which is leaving the continent,” said Simon Milledge, Traffic’s deputy director for eastern and southern Africa.”The main market remains in east and southeast Asia, as well as in the Middle East. It’s a concern.”
Poached to extinction
In the middle of the 1800s, there were probably more than a million black and white rhinos on the plains of Africa.Rapacious hunting by European settlers brought numbers down spectacularly, and at one point the southern white was thought extinct.Protective measures brought a reversal for both species, and in southern and eastern Africa, the revival continues, with countries such as Namibia and South Africa having found a new use for their rhinos as a tourist attraction.
Making conservation pay
Across the continent, there are now more than 14,000 white and nearly 4,000 black rhinos. Live animals can legally change hands for between $20,000 and $50,000 (£10-25,000), far more money than an illegally traded horn can bring.The Traffic report names Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe as countries where protective measures have broken down.An expedition in Cameroon last year found that the one remaining tiny population of the northern black rhino sub-species Diceros bicornis longipes had probably been poached to extinction.DRC is home to the last four northern white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) in existence.
Asian rhinos, meanwhile, show a mixed picture.Indian populations are rising; but in Nepal, recent conflict has brought heavy poaching. And there are other problems in Indonesia.”The Sumatran and Javan rhinos are very vulnerable,” noted Simon Milledge.”The greatest threat is habitat loss and the fragmentation of habitat; the threat of the horn trade is there, but it’s mainly habitat issues for those two species.”
Arrest of two poacher in Nepal
Many of Nepal’s large animals have been poached
No peace dividend for wildlife
CITES voted through a resolution aimed at enhancing rhino protection through greater monitoring of both the animals and the horn trade, better co-operation between African range states, and an assessment of horn stockpiles.A Kenyan amendment that stockpiles should be destroyed was defeated.Earlier, another Kenyan proposal, to stop the annual export of five black rhino hunting trophies by Namibia and a further five by South Africa, was defeated. The exports had been approved at a previous CITES meeting, and South Africa says that its quota brings in nearly $1m per year which can be spent on conservation.Traffic is a joint programme of the conservation group WWF and the IUCN, which is famous for drawing up the Red Lists that document the status of the planet’s flora and fauna.