Press Release: World Elephant Day

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MEDIA RELEASE 07 August 2014
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Press Release: World Elephant Day 12 August

The Wonder of Elephants – Dying for Ivory

(Cape Town, South Africa – August 7, 2014) World Elephant Day on Tuesday, the 12th of August this year will be celebrated by wildlife lovers and conservationists all over the world.

The ivory poaching crisis is sweeping through Africa and slaughtering thousands of elephants in its wake. At least 20,000 elephants were killed for their ivory last year, although many conservationists believe the death toll to be far higher.

It’s long been predicted that the scourge of ivory poaching which has decimated East and Central African elephant populations will move south, with South Africa’s elephants the next to be targeted. Just last month another elephant was poached in Kruger National Park, the second this year.

This World Elephant Day the Conservation Action Trust (CAT) will host a mock Ivory Burn framed by Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain, with celebrities and media to raise the profile of the plight Africa’s elephants are facing.

The Cape Town Burn will pay homage to the ivory burn of 1989 when the Kenyan government ignited 12 tons of seized elephant tusks in an effort to persuade the world to ban the international trade in ivory and to stop the slaughter of elephants.

A ban was implemented shortly thereafter, leading to almost twenty years of respite from poaching for the elephants. Elephant numbers slowly grew again, however two CITES sanctioned sales of ivory by Southern African states in 1999 and in particular 2008, sparked a massive surge in Chinese domestic demand with a commensurate increase in poaching of elephants.

Despite the ban on the international trade in ivory, large quantities of poached ivory continue to be laundered through official Chinese government carving factories and authorised dealers.

The insatiable demand for ivory as a status symbol and investment commodity now threatens the very survival of elephants in many countries, with governments including our own continuing to accumulate stockpiles of ivory, perpetuating the concept that there is a commercial value for ivory.

“Stockpiling ivory undermines the international ban on the ivory trade and sends the wrong message to eastern consumers by reducing the stigma attached to buying ivory. The legal trade within China, fostered by the Chinese government cynically leaking out its hoard of legal ivory at 5 tons per annum, provides the perfect cover for the laundering of ever greater quantities of illegal ivory,” says Francis Garrard of Conservation Action Trust.

Elephants face threats from poaching, habitat destruction and space limitation; however it is the illegal trade in ivory, masked by the legal trade that heralds the death knell for elephants.

Garrard continues: “At present rates of poaching we face the very real spectre of the extinction of the elephants unless the Chinese stop their purchases of ivory. The Chinese government banned the consumption of shark fin soup at official banquets and demand for shark fin halved so something similar could be done with ivory. The practice of ivory gifts to and from government officials is widespread and simply banning this practice, along with the shutting down of official ivory carving factories, would have a major effect.”

Other World Elephant Day activities include the Africa Geographic/Wilderness Safaris/CAT #WorldElephantDay photographic competition on the Africa Geographic Facebook Page and the Elephants Alive! One block at a Time Campaign in Hoedspruit, where donated paper squares will transform into a life size elephant replica.

World Elephant Day is about celebrating the iconic majesty of elephants, recognizing the mystique of these enigmatic grey giants and accepting them as fellow sentient beings who bring joy and richness to the lives of all who are privileged to see them. Join us and help spread the message about the current crisis facing Africa’s iconic elephant.

For suggestions of what you can do this World Elephant Day visit www.worldelephantday.co.za for more information.

ENDS

The Conservation Action Trust works for the protection of threatened species by promoting the objective investigation and reporting of important conservation and environmental issues affecting these species. For more information visit www.conservationaction.co.za. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

For all enquiries contact Martina Polley on 083 430 2375 or administrator

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