Elephants: Is EU giving green light for new massacres?

Despite overwhelming opposition from the European Parliament against the resumption of elephant ivory trade, the European Commission now looks increasingly likely to support overturning the 1989 global ban at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), 13th - 25th March in Doha. On 10th February, the Parliament adopted a strongly-worded Resolution ( http://www.presseportal.ch/go2/franzweber1 ) calling on the EU, negotiating as a bloc at CITES, not to support ivory trade resumption and to respect the nine-year ivory moratorium agreement, reached at the 14th CITES meeting in The Hague in 2007.

The Commission and EU member states are now highly likely to ignore Parliament and support moves by Tanzania and Zambia to resume ivory trade. "This is really the last call for elephants in Africa. The devastating poaching of the 1980s which was first controlled through CITES is now so prevalent again that the African elephant is all but extinct in some countries where once they roamed," says Bourama Niagaté, Director of Parks and Natural Reserves in Mali, co-chair of the 23-government African Elephant Coalition.

"The EU should demonstrate again the leadership it showed when, under the German EU Presidency in 2007, it brokered an eleventh-hour deal on a nine-year ivory moratorium at the last CITES negotiations. It is incomprehensible that the EU is even considering resuming ivory trade. After years of respite, it now gives the green light for poachers to butcher elephants" said Vera Weber, Director of the Fondation Franz Weber. "We would urge the Commission to change its position before it is too late for the African elephant," she added.

Vera Weber, FONDATION FRANZ WEBER, 1820 Montreux, Switzerland, tel +41 21 964 24 24, veraweber@ffw.ch - www.ffw.ch