The Elephant Wars

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  1. FOUNDER AH Ambassador

    Oct 1, 2007
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    The Elephant Wars

    During the course of the day on March 22, the three elephant proposals were debated and voted upon. There were two proposals by Tanzania (Proposal 4) and Zambia (Proposal 5) to downlist their elephant populations from Appendix I (endangered) to Appendix II (threatened) and to have one-off (one-time) sales of their ivory stocks. The stocks have accumulated from naturally deceased elephants and elephants taken during problem animal control operations.

    SCI assisted these two range states, at their requests, in reviewing and restructuring their proposals and in relaying comments on them between the CITES Parties. We have a history of working closely with these countries, and others, on a variety of hunting and conservation issues.

    The Tanzanian proposal failed after over two hours of debate, even though Tanzania had divided it into two parts and had asked the Parties to first consider a simple downlisting from Appendix I and then to consider a one-off ivory sale. Tanzania did not get the necessary 2/3 vote for passage. The vote was by secret ballot, which probably helped Tanzania get more votes than it might have in an open vote.

    After the lunch break, Zambia presented its proposal. Zambia made an effective presentation that included comments by a local community conservancy leader on the need for the Zambian elephants to provide benefits to the local people. Zambia amended its proposal to remove the possibility of a one-off sale of ivory, asking instead for a simple downlisting of its elephant population to Appendix II. After more than 1½ hours of debate, Zambia requested a secret ballot. The vote again fell short of the necessary 2/3 majority.

    Kenya then presented its proposal (Proposal 6) for a 20-year moratorium on ivory sales by all range states of the African elephant. If approved, this would mean that no elephant range state could ask for a downlisting and a sale of ivory for 20 years from November, 2008. Kenya introduced their proposal and later during the debate amended it so that the moratorium would only run for 6 more years from now. That would have made the "universal" moratorium consistent with the agreement reached at the last CITES meeting (CoP 14) which applied a 9-year moratorium to the 4 countries which got a downlisting to Appendix II and were allowed to sell their ivory stockpiles – Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. This also failed to get a 2/3 majority, whereupon Kenya withdrew its original paper and the elephant debate came to an end.

    The elephant proposals are now over, for this meeting, unless one of the proponents makes a move to re-open debate on their proposal in the last two days of the meetings when in what is called Plenary Session. That would first requires a procedural vote in which 1/3 of the Parties would agree to re-open the debate, and then the proponent would still need to get a 2/3 majority on its proposal. We do not know if any of the proponents will attempt this.

    Source: Safari Club international

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