A UN Forum is being held in Geneva to combat poaching - saving the elephant and the rhinoceros from extinction because they are being hunted indiscriminately for their tusks and their horns. Ivory fetches a pretty penny as an ornament on western and Middle Eastern shelves while there is an absurd notion in the East that rhino horn is an aphrodisiac, which speaks volumes for the stupidity and lack of masculinity among those who think they have to take it to "perform".
The increase of elephant and rhino kills is among a number of topics being discussed in the Forum this week meeting in Geneva, more specifically CITES - the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which has 175 member countries, overseeing the implementation of rules on international trade in protected wildlife species.
Elephant kills rising, demand for rhino horn exploding
The CITES secretariat has issues a news release which points towards rising levels in the killing of elephants and an explosion in demand for rhinoceros horn, The Chairman of the Committee, Øysten Størkersen, stated that "With elephant and rhino poaching and smuggling levels being the worst in a decade, it is clear that strong additional measures are required."
"The present meeting will help set the priorities and to ensure the long-term survival of key species we would like to leave to future generations," he added.
Elephant kills are at their highest level in a decade and seizures of ivory stocks are at the highest level since 1989. John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES, stated recently that policy should not stop at seizures: "We need to enhance our collective efforts across range, transit and consumer states to reverse the current disturbing trends in elephant poaching and ivory smuggling...While being essential, enforcement efforts to stop wildlife crime must not just result in seizures - they must result in prosecutions, convictions and strong penalties to stop the flow of contraband," he added. "The whole 'enforcement chain' must work together."
Date from Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) indicates that "three of the five years in which the greatest volumes of ivory were seized globally occurred in 2009, 2010 and 2011. In 2011 alone, there were 14 large-scale ivory seizures - a double-digit figure for the first time in 23 years, when ETIS records were first compiled. They totalled an estimated 24.3 tonnes of ivory, more than in any previous year".
Large-scale seizures of ivory indicate the involvement of organised crime and according to CITES, "The sources of information have shown a very close correspondence between trends in elephant poaching and trends in large-scale ivory seizures, detecting essentially the same patterns at different points in the illegal ivory trade chain".
Other topics on the agenda are the illegal trade in freshwater turtles and tortoises, frogs and plants from Madagascar, tiger conservation, the trade in great apes and Asian snakes used in the leather industry.
CITES regulates international trade in close to 35,000 species of plants and animals, including their products and derivatives, ensuring their survival in the wild with benefits for the livelihoods of local people and the global environment. (*)
Despite increased efforts by African and Asian countries to halt this demonic and immoral practice, as we can see, the trends are rising, not decreasing. Anyone with a piece of ivory in their homes should be disgusted with themselves. As for those who sponsor the killing of rhinos, I know perfectly well what I would do with the horn, only maybe they'd like it...