Bernadette Carreon – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor
Bangkok, Thailand (4E) – Eight countries could possibly be facing trade sanctions if they do not stop smuggling ivory.
According to reports from the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Bangkok those countries, including Kenya, Thailand and China, could be banned from all wildlife trade, including hugely lucrative orchid and crocodile skin exports.
It was disclosed that the killing of elephants for their ivory has doubled in the past decade, while ivory seizures have tripled to an all-time high, according to a new report from CITES, the UN environment programme and others. There were 17 large-scale seizures – hundreds of tusks each – in 2011, the last full year for which data is available, when previously eight seizures was considered a very bad year.
The report examined 60 sites in Africa, representing about 40% of the half million or so elephants remaining and recorded 17,000 deaths in 2011. “That is above the capacity of the elephant population to replace itself,” said Julian Blanc, who heads the monitoring of illegal killing of elephants project.
Other source countries such as Tanzania and Uganda, countries through which ivory is smuggled, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines, and destination countries, Thailand and China.
CITES is seeking stronger powers to sanction at the Bangkok summit. It is also seeking funding to pay for anti-poaching and smuggling measures: a fund set up in August 2012 aiming to raise $100m has so far received only $640,000.
A CITES committee will make a decision next week on whether to impose the ban.