Elephant Cull, Press Release

Posted in ALiberation Press Release by ALib on the June 22nd, 2008

South African Ambassador Comments on Elephant Cull Strategy.

Little was resolved at an amicable meeting last week between animal action group ALiberation and the South African Ambassador to Ireland, HEMs DPS Jana, about South Africa’s lifting of the ban to kill elephants.

In what now must be seen as part of the long term strategy of South Africa to restart the ivory trade, South Africa lifted the ban to kill elephants on the 1st of May of this year.

The South African government has constantly opposed the decision by CITIES to stop the trade of ivory in 1989 and has since tried to reopen the trade through covert means. In the decade before the moratorium, over half the population of elephants was wiped out.
Nonetheless elephants in South

Africa continued to be killed until 1995.

The South African government has supported proposals time and again to inch open the door of the ivory trade. A door that once opened will be almost impossible to close.

In the early 1900’s the African continent had an estimated 10 million elephants, today there is only about 600,000.

Despite the unregulated illegal trade in poached ivory that exists in many countries today, the governments of South Africa along with Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana continually try to negotiate ivory trade deals through CITIES. In 1999, Botwana sent 60 tonnes of ivory to Japan in a once-off deal. In 2000, South Africa was downlisted from Appendix I to Appendix II after ongoing pressure. In 2002, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa were approved for another once-off ivory trade deal that has yet to take place. This ivory is to come from a stockpile that the countries have accumulated over the years.

They have tried to flout the CITIES;s rules by setting up an ivory market in Botswana and selling to non CITIES member states.
In the most recent attempt to allow the tap to drip before it pours, this coalition of governments are pushing for an annual sale of 80 tonnes of ivory, which is the equivalent of the tusks of 13, 000 elephants. This is where the lifting of the ban to kill elephants will be needed to refill this quota of ivory.

The rest of Africa is not taking this move sitting down. Led by Mali and Kenya, 20 African countries are looking for a full moratorium on the ivory trade for the next 20 years.

The government of South Africa has used a range of reasons for the need to kill elephants but all fail both ethical and scientific reasons. Elephants are deeply emotional, psychological, intelligent and social animals. Their feelings of altruism, fear, friendship aggression and their close family ties are scientific fact. Elephants mourn their dead and when one is shot, there is immediate distress and long lasting trauma.
South African officials have stated that killing elephants will be a measure of last resort but a quick look at how they have maneuvered so far suggests otherwise.

With the options of range expansion, range manipulation, translocation and sterilisation there is no need to even contemplate mass of killing elephants as an option.

Spokesperson for ALiberation, Edmund Long said “Ambassador Jana said she sympathized with our quest and although she wished us well she must act in accordance with her government’s wishes. She has however, promised to personally hand the signed and addressed letters that were collected on the streets of Dublin to the South African Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Martinus Van Schalkwyk herself.

It is likely that no elephants will be killed before the World Cup that will be staged in South Africa in 2010 as this would be a public relations disaster. But after this, what happens will be interesting. They will have built up a lot of international goodwill through the World Cup and may not mind spending some of this goodwill to kill families of elephants. After all, why have they lifted the ban if they don’t intend to use it? The idea to resume the ivory trade so far by South Africa is simple and looks sinister. The South African government has pressed for a down listed status in CITIES, they have looked for a once-off ivory trade deal to set a precedent and send out a confusing message about the ban of the sale of ivory. They are now looking for an annual quota of ivory to trade which will need a continuous supply of dead elephants and this they must hope will lead to a full blown relaunch of the horrific ivory trade”.

Between 1979 and 1989, just before the CITIES moratorium on the trade in ivory, more elephants were killed in these ten years than are currently left in the world today.

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