Ivory sales to remain banned rules wildlife summit

International trade in elephant ivory will remain banned, the world summit on endangered species protection has decided.

A vote held at the 18th meeting of CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in Geneva on Thursday upholds the prohibition of buying and selling ivory, which is often the product of illegal elephant poaching.

Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe had proposed they be allowed to sell government-owned ivory stockpiles, in a one-time sale followed by a six-year moratorium.

The proposal was defeated with 101 countries opposing and 23 countries in support, with 18 abstentions.

Kenya and several other African countries opposed the proposal to lift the ban on ivory sales, arguing that even restricted, legal sales would fuel greater demand for elephant ivory on the international market. 

Commenting on the decision to uphold the ban, Jonny Vaughan, CEO of Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, said: “Lilongwe Wildlife Trust congratulates CITES Parties for standing firm and upholding the global ban on ivory. We are firmly opposed to the commercial trade of ivory. Poaching of elephants is a global crisis and we believe that legalising the trade in ivory in any form would undermine the years of hard work to protect this species by African range states and partners across the globe. Allowing the sale of government ivory stockpiles has previously been shown to increase the demand for ivory and lead to increased elephant poaching.”