Cape Town – There had been a sharp upward surge in the trade in poached elephant ivory over the past year, the organisation Space for Elephants (SEF) said on Tuesday.
“The illicit trade… which has been increasing in volume since 2004, has shown a sharp upward surge in 2009,” SEF said in a statement.
Citing data contained in the Elephant Trade Information System – managed by Traffic, the international wildlife trade monitoring network – it said the volume of illegal ivory seized had doubled from 2008 to 2009.
SEF said that following the one-off legal sale, in November 2008, of about 100 tons of ivory by Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, there had been a “notable upsurge in worldwide seizures of illegal ivory”.
The sale of the southern African ivory – to China and Japan – was approved at the time by Cites, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Ivory sale being reviewed
SEF, which on its website lists renowned conservationist Ian Player as a consulting trustee, said the sale of ivory was to be reviewed.
“The sale of ivory is to be reviewed by Cites at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP15) in Doha in March,” it said.
Selling ivory internationally is illegal without an export permit or re-export certificate granted by Cites.
SEF said Tanzania and Zambia had submitted proposals for a one-off sale of their ivory stockpiles to Cites.
“Tanzania wants to sell 89 848kg of its stockpile, while Zambia is looking at 21 692kg as well as raw hides.”
SEF said it was strongly opposed to the resumption of any trade in elephant ivory, which, it maintains, “creates an illegal market”.