Historical vote for the protection of African elephants

30 August 2019

Thanks to your support, a landmark ruling at the international CITES conference means that baby elephants can no longer be taken from the wild in Zimbabwe and Botswana and sold to captive facilities around the world

The 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) wrapped up in Geneva this week. CITES is an international treaty to protect endangered plants and animals by ensuring that they are not threatened by trade, and 183 nations are currently part of it.

Baby elephants were torn from the wild

Under CITES, species of animals are listed under an appendix which ranks the level of protection they receive, with Appendix I being the highest level of international trade regulation possible, effectively ruling out international trade for commercial purposes. African elephants have the highest level of CITES protection across most of their range states - however in countries where elephant populations are higher (including Zimbabwe and Botswana) they are listed under Appendix II, which allows some levels of trade as long as it doesn’t affect the survival of the species in the wild.

Animal lovers took action

At the beginning of this year's conference, a proposal to ban the trade of wild-caught baby elephants from Zimbabwe and Botswana was put forward - but a number of countries voted against it, including the US and Canada, and the EU spoke out against the ban. This sparked outrage around the world, with many individuals and organisations standing up for these animals, including over 5,000 World Animal Protection supporters in the UK who signed our open letter demanding this ban to be put into action.

A brighter future for elephants

With this proposal having received such fierce debate in the original discussion it was highly likely that it would be revisited and there would be another vote. The EU representatives who received our open letter, were a key player in this final decision as they had not voted previously and were expected to tip the majority to block the ban. Following pressure from an inspiring global mobilisation, when the vote was retaken, the EU voted for the ban and the resolution passed. Thanks to this outpouring of support, baby elephants will be spared the horrendous suffering of being torn from their natural habitat, shipped overseas and confined for the rest of their lives.

Baby elephants will be spared the horrendous suffering of being torn from their natural habitat, shipped overseas and confined for the rest of their lives.
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