The UK's vote last week in Geneva to allow China to become an official buyer of stockpiled African elephant ivory has been described by some Greens as representing 'a hideous stain on the UK's wildlife conservation record' (see here). China is already the world's largest destination for illegal ivory and this licensing decision will only serve to increase the market for this brutal trade.
Photo: Ivory pic from Traffic website
Wildlife groups like the highly respected International Fund for Animal Welfare have shown that poachers go into action when there is talk of approved legal sales, which they can use as a 'smokescreen'. They argue that our Government and the other world leaders failure to act, will mean we can expect the illegal slaughter of endangered elephants across Africa to continue.
The WWF and Traffic have cautiously supported the Government's move - certainly this is a complex issue of balancing least bad options. I personally don't know if the move is good or bad - I would need to study it much more deeply - certainly this move does seem to fail to reduce the trading opportunities for illegal hunters despite assurances - and I wonder if this is about political cowardice and a preoccupation with putting economic interests with China above all other considerations? Certainly this blog has discussed similar trades in diamonds and gold - and the record is not good (see here).
I would like to see a lot more being done to raise awareness around this issue - meanwhile I have a small inherited carved ivory object - what to do with it? It has beauty but at the same time this is probably the result of one of these beautiful beasts being killed. I certainly won't sell and add to the trade nor can I throw it away - thoughts on this dilemma welcomed.