Representatives of 25 African countries meeting in Cotonou, Benin, have adopted a ground--breaking Declaration demanding a total ban on Ivory trade worldwide. The Cotonou Declaration, adopted by the African Elephant Coalition on 4th November 2015, calls for immediate and decisive action to save the African elephant.
Delegates stressed that as a result of poaching for ivory, African elephants are facing the worst crisis since 1989 when all populations were listed on Appendix I of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), banning international ivory trade. Protection was weakened in 1997 and 2000 when populations in four Southern Africa countries (Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe) were down-listed to Appendix II (a less endangered status) to allow two sales of ivory stockpiles in 1999 and 2008.
As a result, elephants are being decimated at an alarming rate throughout Africa, while human lives are being lost in attempts to protect this global flagship species. Between 2011 and 2013 alone, more than 100,000 elephants were killed for the ivory trade.
The Cotonou Declaration (PDF) aims to end this crisis. Among its common objectives, this decisive agreement commits to strengthening collaboration between member States to secure the highest possible protection for all African elephant populations under international law. To achieve this, they propose a strict ban on all international and domestic ivory trade, including re-listing all African elephant populations on Appendix I of CITES, and call on other countries and organizations to support the proposal.
“Protecting African elephants is of great importance for the whole world, and in particular for African countries”, declared his Excellency Mr. Théophile Worou, Minister for the Environment in charge of Climate Change, Reforestation and the Protection of Natural and Forest Resources of Benin, at the end of the three-day meeting. “All necessary resources must be mobilized to ensure the survival of the African elephant”.
The Coalition also discussed other threats to elephants, particularly human-elephant conflict, as well as the difficulties member States face against determined and well-armed poachers, and in enforcing laws to combat poaching and ivory trade.
About The African Elephant Coalition: the Coalition was established in 2008 in Bamako, Mali. It comprises 28 member countries from Africa united by a common goal: “a viable and healthy elephant population free of threats from international ivory trade“.