Ivory Trade and Trophy Hunting

17. February 2022

Arguments by Dr. Alistair Pole, spokesperson for the African Wildlife Foundation is calling for African countries to speak with one voice on conservation provided that such a voice  allows that all 54 African  countries can trade  trade in ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales and live African animals. It is an absurd position, since different African countries have different conservation requirements.

His insistence that the policies of CITES  are deeply flawed and were originally founded to facilitate trade in endangered species is simply wrong. No matter how flawed the CITES policies maybe, they were enacted and agreed on by more than a hundred member states, to protect endangered species against trade motivated by greed.

Elephant at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya’s National Park? Photo Credit: Volodymyr Burdock / shutterstock

The Environmental Investigation Agency in their report A System of Extinction, released on the eve of the 1989 conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) supported an unprecedented international ban on the trade of ivory. Thirty years later, the agency (eIa) concluded the following:

The CITES ban was a success, resulting in significant  decline in the levels of poaching raging in Africa, sending the prices tumbling and spurring the closure of ivory markets around the world as it allowed some elephant populations to recover.

Unfortunately, two ill-conceived one-off sales authorized by CITES, have since demonstrated that any legal market for ivory provides a laundering mechanism for illegal trade, demonstrating time and again by the continued poaching statistics, the number of large seizures of illegal ivory making the way to the markets in Asia and by the sheer volume of illegal ivory available in these markets legal – and illegal.

Dr. Pole maintains further that the conservation success  of the southern African countries is not appreciated by the rest of the world, implying that in spite of trading ivory, allowing trophy hunting and selling life elephants, the funds generated by such activities have benefited elephants and rural human populations living close to wildlife reserves.

This amazing photo of two elephants interacting was taken on safari in Africa. Photo credit: Jonathan Pledger / shutterstuck

Former Botswana president Khama, whose unique and much critisized (mostly by neighboring countries) wildlife policies made luxury eco-tourism Botswana’s second most lucrative industry after diamond mining. By banning trophy hunting,  legal killing of elephants, ivory trade and by using his military effectively to protect Botswana’s wild life against poachers, he alone in southern Africa achieved the best conservation record of any country on the African continent.

The new Botswana wild life policies of president Masisi, mirror those of  other countries in southern Africa with dismal conservation records and increasing poverty for their rural populations.