Letter to CITES Representatives of all Nations

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Dear CITES Representative,

As one of thousands of voices from around the world represented by the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, Inc. (GMFER), I am writing to urgently request that you support the following at CoP17:

  • A complete closure of domestic and international markets for ivory and a total ban on the ivory trade, including the rejection of any future “one-off” sales

  • List ALL species of elephant on Appendix 1

  • Reject Swaziland’s proposal to sell its stockpile of rhino horn and open up trade in horn, and (given the opportunity), list ALL species of rhino on Appendix 1

  • List ALL species of lion on Appendix 1, ending the trade in lion bone.

Results of the Great Elephant Census, a wake-up call for the world, reveal that elephant populations are plummeting. Poaching, driven by insatiable demand for ivory, has wiped out nearly a third of Africa’s elephants in just 7 years. After an international ban on ivory in 1989, the ivory market crashed and elephant numbers started to recover. But the CITES-approved “one-off” sales of ivory stockpiles in 1999, 2003, and 2008 to China and Japan fueled demand and poaching spiked, causing the subsequent decline in elephant populations.

If the ivory trade and this poaching trend continue, Savannah elephants will disappear from many parts of Africa in just a few years. The data are clear: we need an unequivocal, global ban on the ivory trade and the closure of all domestic and international markets for ivory.

Furthermore, the push by a few African countries to sell their ivory stockpiles, claiming loss of profit, is a smokescreen: the profit made by sellers of ivory stocks is a mere pittance in GDP terms.

Whereas an international ban on trade in rhino horn is in effect, forces in South Africa and Swaziland are pushing for a legal trade. This would be a catastrophe for dwindling rhino populations, which could never withstand the subsequent spike in demand.

Lion numbers have faced a precipitous decline over the past 50 years due to a host of threats, including overhunting and the lion bone trade. Demand for lion bones has been increasing as traders and consumers look for an alternative to tiger bones in traditional Chinese medicine.

In addition to wreaking havoc on populations of elephants, rhinos and lions, the wildlife trade (legal and illegal) destabilizes the African continent, funding criminal syndicates and terror groups, and leads to the killing of thousands of rangers each year. The illegal wildlife trade, the fourth largest global illegal trade, threatens international security, and it is impossible to tease out the legal from the illegal trade. The legal trade serves as cover for the illegal trade. The militarization of conservation is not working for people, security or wildlife. Ending trade, closing markets, and stamping out demand are the only ways to ensure future survival of these magnificent species and a secure future for Africa.

Africa is losing its iconic species at an alarming rate. The power is in your hands to save them.

The world is watching. Vote to end the trade. Vote to list ALL elephants, rhinos and lions on Appendix I and shut the door on any future trade. Vote with a conscience. The global community and future generations are counting on you to do the right thing.

GMFER is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization advocating for the survival of elephants and rhinos by working to end poaching and the wildlife trade. Our strategies include public marches and protests, lobbying world leaders to take action to ban ivory and rhino horn trade, and supporting other groups worldwide that are taking action to save these magnificent species from extinction in the wild.

Thank you very much for your time and careful consideration.