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Tuesday, 19 November, 2002, 10:25 GMT
Should ivory trading be allowed?
The United Nations has relaxed the strict worldwide ban on ivory trading by allowing several southern African countries to sell off their stockpiles of elephant tusks.

The UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) granted permission to South Africa, Botswana and Namibia to sell off 60 tonnes of ivory in 2004.

Conservation groups have reacted with anger to the decision, saying it could "spell doom" for elephants.

But Cites insists the one off ivory sales will only go ahead once it has a monitoring system in place to prevent poaching.

The African elephant population has fallen from 1.3 million in 1980 to between 300,000 and 450,000 today, despite the existence of an international ban on African ivory sales since 1989.

Do you agree with the decision to allow the sale of ivory stockpiles? Should it be extended to ease the international ban on ivory trading? Or could that threaten the existence of elephants and other endangered species?

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

This is nothing but an attempt to gain profit through illicit means

Pamela, USA
This is wrong and nothing but an attempt to gain profit through illicit and unnecessary means. If the ban is lifted, then someone had better ensure that the first elephant discovered murdered with its tusks removed, means the immediate reinstatement of the ban.
Pamela, USA

The intention by the UN to relax the sale of elephant ivory is a straight death knell and will lead to the subsequent extinction of the elephant, especially in countries where the law doesn't allow the trade. Kenya is one of the countries which banned the sale of ivory. It will now be a victim of this decision to lift the trade ban.
Mwenda James Mungania, Kenya

Once again wildlife gets it in the neck because of human greed. Shame on Africa.
Alan Reid, Scotland

I do live in a country in wich we have elephants. I am commited to their protection, particularly against poachers. I know, not by hearsay, that managing the herds and protecting against poachers is very expensive.To manage the herds you have to kill some animals, so there is no excess of animals, which could destroy their own environment, pastures, etc... We have to allow some sport hunting, so peasants receive a compensation for the destroyed crops, besides, patroling against poachers is expensive. All these reasons point in favour of controlled selling of ivory. So let us use some facts and brain to discuss these matters. Thank you.
S. VIieria, Mozambique

Why not permit the active management of the elephant populations?

Muriel Abraham, Canada
In this type of debate you have to be able to separate the different issues to deal with them individually. Africa's elephants do not exisist in one single territory, nor are they subject to the same pressures. In the southern extent of their range, elephant populations are expanding. In the northern range their populations are still being decimated by poachers and most importantly by local farmers who are doing no less then protceting their livelihoods. In regions where both humans and wild animals live together, why not permit the active management of the elephant populations, which can only generate revenue for local communitites.
Muriel Abraham, Canada

This sounds like the beginning of the end for the African elephant. The money raised from this so called sale will no doubt end up in politicians pockets as usual. How sad for us and future generations that probably within 20 years there will be no elephants left in Africa.
Dario, UK

I agree with the relaxing of the ban, and I suspect those do-gooders writing below miss the point that the best way to protect an animal is to farm it. Farming elephants for their valuable tusks would be the first step on the road to long term safety for this magnificent beast. Those of us who know Africa will realise that in several southern African countries the elephant is a threat to land stability and domestic animal stocks. We need to listen to Africans on this issue that mainly affects them.
David, Grenada, West Indies

Poachers only supply the demand

Clive, Kenya
Poachers only supply the demand. If the countries fuelling the demand, principally Japan, China and the Middle East plus a few southern European countries were prevailed upon to alter their policies (rather than fund the pro-sale lobby) the situation may be settled once and for all.
Clive, Kenya

It will be a sad day when they allow the sale of ivory. Once started, the elephants will once again be the victims of slaughter.
Wanda, USA

I totally disagree with the decision to allow the sale of ivory. It is obvious that the profits generated from the sale of those stockpiles will encourage some greedy brokers to go out and obtain more. The demand will have already been created and the only way to satisfy the demand will be to obtain illegal stocks. As much as the governments try to protect the elephants, the availability of sophisticated arms which can be easily obtained from neighbouring countries make it very difficult for them to do so.
Gichuru Matindi, Kenya

What is the point in spending years trying to eradicate the trade in ivory, and then releasing tons of the stuff to see what happens? Destroy the ivory stock piles and prevent creating a demand.
James Lunn, Ireland

Elephants and other innocent animals are going to pay an excruciating and deadly price

Susan, USA
Say goodbye to our beautiful elephants. Due to corrupt African governments who are unable to care for their overpopulated countries, elephants and other innocent animals are going to pay an excruciating and deadly price. Shame on Africa! Shame on the UN once again!
Susan, USA

If they can't control the poaching that is already going on then how will they ensure the elephants' safety now?!
Sara, Belgium

How can the UN do this? The goods should be destroyed. Why encourage more ivory trade? Why keep ivory traders in business? Outlaw ivory completely, now.
Jon Allwinkle, Scotland

Elephant overpopulation is causing more damage to national parks than poachers

Rory Dippenaar, UK
For well managed parks such as the Kruger National Park and others in Southern Africa, where the Elephant population is already in excess of that which is sustainable by the land, ivory could provide much needed income for these under funded parks. Elephant overpopulation is causing more damage to these parks at the moment than poachers. Much of the extra income could be used to improve these parks and reduce poaching even more.
Rory Dippenaar, UK

In this day and age with all the technology, are we saying that no suitable alternative to ivory has been developed? Its more likely that the money made from ivory speaks louder than common sense.
Stuart, UK

I absolutely disagree, there is now a legitimate route for the poachers to sell their wares. There is no way African states at present can control this, and the $5m raised is a pitiful amount given the risks being taken.
Andy James, England

Cites has just given the poachers all the encouragement they need

Lynne, Scotland
Sadly Cites has just given the poachers all the encouragement they need to resume their bloody slaughter of Africa's elephants. Will we never learn?
Lynne, Scotland

I was a resident of Kenya when the sale of ivory was banned. The shop owners in Nairobi were given three months to sell off all their stocks before closure. It was so obscene to see the huge amount of skins and ivory that was for sale. How many beautiful animals must have been slaughtered for tacky gifts bought mainly by tourists to take home? The ivory ban should stay!
Joan Chadwick, England

If there were a way to tell if the ivory was harvested after the animal had died, then yes it should be sold. However with the corrupt governments of Africa, it seems more helpless animals will be killed for there tusks. If it's government controlled, and the profits are set aside for shortages of food and for Aids prevention and treatment, then fine. However, no private sales of tusks should be allowed.
Chris, USA

I do not agree with the decision - it could mean the demise of the elephant population. I have just come back from a game park in Zambia and having seen some of the damage that poaching can do to elephants - the ban should not be lifted.
Ann Matheson, UK

No! How on earth can people say that encouraging the sale of ivory does not risk rekindling the ivory trade? Far better to give these countries the US$5 million these tusks are apparently worth in return for having the tusks destroyed.
Suzanne, England

Should the trade ban on ivory be eased?



1049 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Talking PointFORUM
Ivory ban
Wildlife expert answered your questions
See also:

13 Nov 02 | Science/Nature
12 Nov 02 | Africa
04 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
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