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  • Writer's pictureEPI Secretariat

Domestic ivory markets must not be reopened says leading voice on ivory trade

The EPI Foundation, the secretariat to the 24 African member states of the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI), expresses its strong opposition to the reopening of domestic ivory markets, as proposed in the Republic of South Africa’s Draft National Biodiversity Economy Strategy. 

The EPI Foundation’s CEO, John E. Scanlon AO, said; ‘To open a domestic ivory market is bad for elephant conservation. It is contrary to CITES resolutions and the policies of most African elephant range states, as well as key destination states, including China, the USA and those in the EU. It will stimulate demand for ivory, and undermine law enforcement as well as the international moratorium on commercial ivory trade. The same applies for South Africa’s proposal to open a market in rhino horn products.’  

Kenya Wildlife Services officers who protect the country’s stockpile of ivory

African elephant range states have made significant progress towards closing domestic ivory markets in recent years. In 2015, 25 range states adopted the Cotonou Declaration, which called for the closure of these markets as a crucial measure in the conservation of elephants and combating wildlife trafficking. During the past decade poaching for ivory in many parts of Africa has declined, and elephant populations have stabilised after sharp falls in previous years. 

John Scanlon AO said, ‘We respectfully encourage South Africa to reconsider, and align itself with the broad international consensus. All 37 African elephant range states face similar challenges, including poaching, trafficking of ivory, human-elephant conflict, and the impacts of climate change. We need to find alternative sources for holistic elephant conservation finance, which will take us forward from the old fractious debates over ivory markets and trade. We can take proactive steps in this direction, uniting range states in a common cause to ensure the harmonious coexistence of elephants and people.’

Read the full letter that the EPI sent to South Africa here.

For further information, contact Barnaby Phillips or Clara Rincuni

See CITES Conf. 10.10 (Rev. CoP18) Trade in elephant specimens , citing the 2015 Cotonou  Declaration. 


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