Ivory Sale a Step on the Road to Sustainable Development
IPN Press release
London, October 29 -- Environmental economist Julian Morris, Executive Director of International Policy Network, welcomed today’s sale of ivory as a step on the road towards sustainable development for communities that share their land with elephants. In the past, Professor Morris has heavily criticized the effective ban on trade in ivory that has been in place since 1989 under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species’ (CITES). Commenting on the sale and prospects for the future, Prof. Morris said today:
“Countries with large elephant populations must choose between state management of those populations, funded by international donors, and private management, funded by eco-tourism, hunting and the sale of ivory.
“Those that have chosen the former have generally experienced declines in their elephant population and have higher levels of conflict with disenfranchised local populations, who see the elephants as a pest, trampling their crops and injuring – even killing people.
“By contrast, countries in which local populations are vested with the rights to own and use the wildlife have experienced increases in elephant populations and have experienced fewer conflicts – because the locals see the elephants as a resource to be husbanded.
“The countries who continue to support the ban on trade in ivory do so because they see it as a way of bringing in donor money. The countries who support a lifting of the ban do so because they want to become self-sustaining; they do not want to be reliant on donor money and they do not want to be hindered by barriers to trade.”
Notes to Editors
CITES was signed in 1973 and took effect two years later. Ivory was listed on Appendix One of CITES (effectively a ban on most trade) in 1989.
There was a legal one-time sale of ivory in 1999, in which the four countries involved – Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana – earned about 5 million dollars. These same countries are participating in another round of one-time sales over the next two weeks, beginning yesterday (Tuesday, October 28, 2008). Botswana will sell off 44 tonnes this Friday October 31, 2008. The South African and Zimbabwean sales will take place next week.
CITES maintains that only countries whose elephant populations are stable and growing are able to participate in one-off sales and that the money will be used toward conservation and/or the development of local communities.