CITES and Elephants
Over the last 15 years, the Samburu elephant population has become one of the best studied in the world. The 1000 or so elephants that use the reserves are recognized individually by the shape of their ears and tusks. Births, deaths and interactions are closely monitored, making this population a Rosetta Stone for interpreting impacts of poaching on the society. In 2009, STE was the first organization to warn, with hard data, of the storm of illegal killing descending on East Africa’s protected areas. This data was used to help push out Tanzania’s proposal to sell its ivory in 2010 in Doha.
Armed with a decade of MIKE data showing clearly that a fifth of the families studied no longer have a matriarch to lead them in a previously “safe” population, STE went to the CITES in Bangkok in 2013. Significant progress was made, and after our intervention which read in part: “We urge all parties to unite in supporting ivory demand reduction and to initiate public awareness campaigns to reduce demand, to stop the killing,” all parties subsequently endorsed such campaigns, getting the world one step closer to taking the united action necessary to reduce demand for ivory.
There were wins on many fronts. A new mandate states that DNA samples should be taken on future ivory seizures that are larger than 500kg, and there will be a requirement for all parties to CITES to report on ivory stockpiles once a year. Tanzania’s wise withdrawal of their proposal to sell their ivory stockpile led to a much friendlier atmosphere between delegates from the African elephant range states who have differing philosophies and who have clashed in the past over the question of sales of stockpiled ivory. Even the discussion of whether or not there ever could be an ivory trade was postponed and the ban remains in place as before.
Every year, the CITES conference is also a strategic place to forge friendships. At present, there is a real chance to forge a powerful coalition of individuals, scientists, NGOs, institutions and governments to take united international action to lower the demand for ivory and take away the incentive to poach. Attending the CITES conferences opens the way for us to talk to the Chinese and delegates from other consumer states as individuals.
The fate of elephants is in the balance. The record price of ivory has attracted organised crime, rebel militias and even terrorist groups, fuelling a surge of poaching across the continent. Without the outstanding support and generosity of our donors, STE would not be able to continue securing a future for the elephants. We urgently need your support, while there is still time. You can be of vital assistance by donating to either our core funds or to any of our projects.
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How You Can Help
Over the last years our world-leading conservation efforts have been possible thanks to the dedication and generosity of loyal supporters. To join them you can donate in a number of ways:
Elephants are fast disappearing from the wild. Without urgent, international action they could be gone within a generation. The Elephant Crisis Fund provides rapid, catalytic support for the most effective projects designed to stop the killing, thwart traffickers and end the demand for ivory. 100% of all donations reach the field.
Save the Elephants is funded almost entirely by private donations. It is only through the generous support of donors that we are able to continue our important elephant conservation work. We rely entirely on funds, grants and donations from around the world, so thank you for helping us to secure a future for these fascinating creatures.