Displaying items by tag: poaching

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November 24, 2018

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Born Free Calls on UK Government to Implement Ivory Trade Ban Without Delay

UK ivory ban must inspire further international measures, take the commerce out of the ivory trade and pay attention to the plight of other ivory-bearing endangered species

Horsham, England -- March 4, 2018 ­-- Born Free today welcomes the long-awaited announcement of a ban on the commercial trade in elephant ivory within, to and from the United Kingdom. However, Born Free is seeking greater clarity about the appointment of a special regulator who will manage the accreditation of exempt items.

Born Free's co-founder and President, Will Travers OBE, said: "We applaud the government for its recognition of the need for the U.K., which has been the largest exporter of ‘legal’ ivory items in recent years, to take action on commercial ivory trade. African elephant range states, the international conservation community, and the British public, have all been calling for a comprehensive ban as the only way to help end the poaching epidemic which threatens the very future of wild elephants. We implore Parliament to pass the proposed measures into law without delay.”

Born Free believes the proposed online ivory registration process establishes, importantly, that the burden of proof now resides with the applicant. Furthermore, the range of penalties and fines for those who offend should have a suitably deterrent effect.

According to the government, the provenance of items exempted due to their rarity or cultural/historical importance, will be determined by independent advisors who will be accountable for their decisions.

Travers said: “In practice, it will be essential that anyone who seeks to trade ivory or facilitate the trade in ivory – including those who are responsible for its certification – must be held to account. Only a robust and highly precautionary approach will prevent these exemptions becoming loopholes that traffickers can exploit.”

Exempt items will include:

  • Items made before 1947 containing less than 10 percent of ivory by volume
  • Musical instruments containing less than 20 percent of ivory made before 1975
  • The “rarest and most important items” that are more than 100 years old, including portrait miniatures
  • Items traded between accredited museums.

Africa's elephant numbers have plummeted from perhaps 5 million a century ago, to less than half a million today, and upwards of 20,000 continue to be killed across the continent by poachers each year to supply criminal networks with ivory. Asian elephants, where only the males carry ivory and which number below 30,000, are also targeted for their tusks.

The U.K. has, in recent years, been the world's biggest exporter of legal ivory, largely in the form of antique worked items which have been in big demand among Asian buyers. This trade stimulates demand for ivory products and provides traffickers with a means by which they can launder new ivory from recently slaughtered elephants into trade.

Travers concluded: “Ending legal commercial trade in all ivory products is vital if we are to provide hope for beleaguered elephant populations. We need all countries that continue to operate legal markets and act as sources of ivory in international trade to step up and introduce similar measures to those announced here in the U.K. and, in particular, we urge the European Commission to announce far tougher restrictions on trade within, between and from EU countries without delay.

“We must also take into account the impact that closing elephant ivory trade and markets could have on other ivory-bearing species. For example, indications are that trade in poached hippo ivory is on the rise and official data confirms that since 2006 more than 50,000 kilograms of hippo ivory was released into trade – this from a species that may number as few as 130,000 individuals. Tackling the trade in ivory from other threatened species, such as hippos, narwhals and walruses, needs to be part of our immediate plan.”

Born Free has been campaigning for a global ban on commercial trade in all ivory products since 1989. The charity's advocacy, awareness-raising and public mobilization efforts have played a major part in informing recent decisions and persuading the UK government to take action. Born Free will continue with these efforts until the poaching of elephants and other ivory-bearing species has been brought to an end, and their future secured.

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Amid Poaching Crisis, President Obama Announces Proposal to Tighten Controls on Domestic Ivory Trade 
Poachers currently kill on average one elephant every 15 minutes to fuel global black market, decimating populations, threatening African elephant with extinction

WASHINGTON – In response to a growing poaching crisis that is rapidly pushing populations of African elephants, rhinos and other species to the brink of extinction, President Obama today announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is proposing new regulations that would prohibit most interstate commerce in African elephant ivory and further restrict commercial exports. This action, combined with others FWS has already taken, will result in a near total ban on the domestic commercial trade of African elephant ivory. The proposed rule builds upon restrictions put in place last year following President Obama’s Executive Order on combating wildlife trafficking.

The proposed rule follows U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell’s trip to China and Vietnam earlier this month to meet with senior government officials in both countries to build international cooperation to combat wildlife trafficking. In June, FWS held the second “Ivory Crush” in New York City’s Times Square, at which an industrial rock crusher destroyed more than one ton of confiscated ivory. In November 2013, FWS crushed six tons of seized ivory in Denver, inspiring nine other countries to follow suit with their own ivory stock destructions.

“If our children – and their grandchildren – are to grow up in a world where they appreciate their natural heritage and can see elephants in the wild and not just in the history books, then we owe it to them to shut down avenues that motivate poachers to go after these iconic animals,” said Jewell, who serves as co-chair of the President’s Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking. “As we work to put the brakes on poaching and prevent elephants from going extinct in the wild, we need to take the lead in a global effort to shut down domestic markets for illegal ivory. Today, we are making it harder for criminals by further shutting the door to the American market.”

“The United States is among the world’s largest consumers of wildlife, both legal and illegal,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “We want to ensure our nation is not contributing to the scourge of poaching that is decimating elephant populations across Africa.”

An estimated 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory between 2010 and 2012, an average of approximately one every 15 minutes. The carcasses of illegally killed elephants now litter some of Africa’s premiere parks. Elephants are under threat even in areas that were once thought to be safe havens.

As stated in the President’s July 2013 Executive Order, wildlife trafficking reduces the economic, social and environmental benefits of wildlife while generating billions of dollars in illicit revenues each year, contributing to an illegal economy, fueling instability and undermining security.

Federal law enforcement investigations have demonstrated that wildlife traffickers are exploiting current regulations providing for legal trade in ivory as cover for trade in illegal ivory. In one particularly high-profile investigation, FWS special agents seized more than one ton of elephant ivory – the largest seizure in U.S. history – from a Philadelphia art store owner. Much of the seized ivory, though disguised to look old, had been newly acquired from elephants poached in central Africa. Earlier this year, the owner of a seemingly legitimate Florida fine art auction house pleaded guilty to a wildlife trafficking and smuggling conspiracy involving objects made from elephant ivory, rhino horn and coral.

“By tightening domestic controls on trade in elephant ivory and allowing only very narrow exceptions, we will close existing avenues that are exploited by traffickers and address ivory trade that poses a threat to elephants in the wild,” said Ashe. “Federal law enforcement agents will have clearer lines by which to demarcate legal from illegal trade.”

The proposed revisions to the African elephant rule under section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) would prohibit most interstate commerce (sales across state lines) in African elephant ivory and would further restrict commercial exports.

During the last year, FWS consulted extensively with groups that may be impacted by new trade controls for ivory, including professional musicians, antique dealers and collectors, and museum curators, among others.

Based on consideration of the input from those groups and a multitude of others, the proposed rule prohibits interstate commerce in ivory, with specific, limited exceptions for certain pre-existing manufactured items such as musical instruments, furniture pieces, and firearms that contain less than 200 grams of ivory. FWS recognizes that legal trade in these items does not contribute to the current poaching crisis.

“We listened carefully to concerns raised by various stakeholder groups and have developed a proposed rule that will allow continued trade in certain items containing ivory that meet very specific criteria,” Ashe said.

Antiques, as defined under the ESA, are also exempt from its prohibitions.

For more information on the proposed ivory rule, please see http://www.fws.gov/international/pdf/african-elephant-4d-proposed-changes.pdf.

The proposed rule will publish in the Federal Register on July 29, 2015 and be open for public comment for 60 days. FWS will review and consider all comments received by September 28, 2015 before publishing a final rule. Please go to www.regulations.gov, docket no. FWS–HQ–IA–2013–0091.

Born Free USA: “Will world leaders push iconic species to brink of extinction or hand them a lifeline at UN wildlife convention?”

Washington, DC, February 25, 2013 – Adam Roberts, Executive Vice President of Born Free USA, a leader in wildlife conservation and animal welfare, and a board member of Species Survival Network (SSN), warned today, “We are presiding over a slide towards extinction for many of the world's most iconic species.” Roberts, along with members of the Born Free international team and SSN, will attend the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) March 3 to 14 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Born Free is calling on the 177 Member countries that are signatories to CITES (www.bornfreeeusa.org/cites) to urgently put in place effective measures to prevent the further loss of several key-stone species. Born Free also urges the international community to dig deep and find the essential resources necessary to shatter the organized crime syndicates that are behind today's poaching epidemic and equip the men and women who regularly lose their lives on the conservation frontline.

According to Roberts, "This is a tragic state of affairs. We are witnessing the decimation of some of the world’s most beautiful creatures and it must stop. The public is led to believe that the natural world is holding its own, and that is far from the truth. For some species, the question is not whether they will go extinct in the wild in my daughter’s lifetime, but in mine.”

Will Travers OBE, the CEO of Born Free and President of SNN adds, "The situation is now so bad, the poaching and slaughter of wildlife now so inextricably linked to international organized crime syndicates, that without a dramatic step-change in our efforts and without the resources for effective species conservation, we shall, in my view, end up with a handful of 'wildlife fortresses' - heavily guarded National Reserves and Parks, protected by garrisons of armed rangers and wardens - and that's it."

Recent announcements by former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, echoed by the UK Environment Minister Richard Benyon, on his recent trip to Kenya, indicate that criminal operations coordinated by terrorist organizations such as al-Shabab, Boko Haram, and the Lord's Resistance Army, are intimately connected with wildlife crime, the proceeds of which fuels their efforts to plunder and terrorize.

"The resources and the forces we have at our disposal to resist the tide of poaching are simply not enough,” said Travers. "Until the international community recognizes the need to meet this threat head-on, then endangered wild animals will lose their lives, people will be murdered, local communities will be destabilized, and environments will be destroyed."

Key Statistics:

  • African elephants down by 30% in 20 years - there were 1.3 million in 1979, now there may be less than 400,000. Some countries could lose their elephants entirely within five years.
  • 668 rhino of South Africa's 20,000 rhino poached in 2012 alone - up from just 13 in 2007.
  • African lion numbers collapse by 50% to below 35,000 since 1980 and the trade in lion body parts grows in leaps and bounds.
  • 3,500 wild tigers cling to survival, down from 100,000 just over a century ago, driven by poaching for their body parts.
  • At least 38,000,000 sharks unsustainably caught for their fins, primarily for soup.
  • Thousands of Manta Rays caught and traded for their gills which are used for medicinal purposes in the Far East.
  • Approximately 600 Polar bears killed each year, of which 64% are commercially traded as skins.
  • South Africa lost 668 rhino to poachers in 2012. So far in 2013 it has lost more than 100 - at a rate of two rhino per day. Kenya lost seven rhino to poachers in January.
  • The CITES Secretariat estimate that 25,000 elephant were poached in 2012. Others, including Born Free, suggest the total may be more than 30,000 in the last 12 months.
  • Duke University estimates African lions to number 35,000 or less. Born Free estimates the figure may be nearer 25,000 while some lion scientists believe the number to be as low as 15,000.
  • The Shark Trust reports that between 26,000,000 and 73,000,000 million sharks are traded for fins each year (based on 2006 figures).
  • According to the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) two thirds of Polar bear populations (estimated to be 20,000-25,000) could disappear by 2050.
  • Traders report a steep rise in the Manta Ray gills trade which are now reportedly worth $680 a kilo.
  • Of the nine recognized tiger subspecies, three are now extinct and some countries, notably Loas and Vietnam, may have less than 20 tigers surviving in the wild. China refuses to close down its notorious 'tiger farms.'

Born Free USA is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to America the message of “compassionate conservation” -- the vision of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son Will Travers, now CEO of both organizations. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.

More at: bornfreeusa.org/cites and bloodyivory.org. On Twitter twitter.com/bornfreeusa; On Facebook facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.