Breaking! CITES Conference Votes To End Cruel Export Of Wild-Caught African Elephants For Captivity; Final Vote Next Week
The first vote at the 18th meeting of the CITES Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, has delivered a historic win for African elephants to end the cruel practice of removing live elephants from the wild for export to captive facilities. CITES stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
CITES Parties voted in committee to limit trade in live wild African elephants to ‘in situ’ conservation in their natural habitats, which will end the trade in live wild elephants for captivity in zoos and entertainment venues, effectively ruling them unacceptable and inappropriate destinations.
Forty-six countries voted in favor, 18 voted against and 19 countries abstained. This achieved the 2/3 majority for the proposal to pass in committee. The United States was shockingly one of the 18 to vote in opposition which goes against what the majority of Americans want, which is to protect elephants and other threatened and endangered species at all costs. A final vote on the proposal will take place during the plenary session next week.
“This decision will save countless elephants from being ripped away from their families in the wild and forced to spend their lifetimes imprisoned in substandard conditions at zoos,” Iris Ho, Senior Wildlife Specialist for Wildlife Programs and Policy for Humane Society International, said in a statement. “HSI applauds this decision and calls on all Parties to affirm this decision.”
“The export of live wild elephants serves no credible conservation purpose and is opposed by numerous elephant biologists. Elephants are highly intelligent, social animals with strong family bonds. The capture of baby elephants is horribly cruel and traumatic to both the mothers, their calves and their herds that are left behind,” said Audrey Delsink, Director of Wildlife for Humane Society International/Africa and an elephant biologist. “Calves suffer psychological and physical harm when taken from their mothers. Zoos and other captive facilities force these calves to live in an unnatural, unhealthy environment that does not meet their complex needs.”
The decision applies to the elephants in Botswana, Namibia, South African and Zimbabwe, these elephant populations are on Appendix II of CITES, which has an annotation that permits this trade to “appropriate and acceptable destinations.”
“There is no such thing as ‘appropriate’ or ‘acceptable’ when you are taking an elephant away from its family for the profit of humans, this sickening trade must end,” said Katie Cleary, President and Founder of Peace 4 Animals & WAN.
Zimbabwe has captured and exported more than 100 baby elephants to Chinese zoos since 2012. These calves, severely traumatized by being torn away from their mothers, were subsequently abused through violent handling that included being kicked and beaten, and several have consequently died.
Burkina Faso, Jordan, Lebanon, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan and Syria put forward this important proposal, which was backed by the 32 member countries of the African Elephant Coalition.
“We must keep up the fight worldwide in order to protect our elephants and all wildlife from exploitation at all costs, the time is now before we lose these amazing beings forever,” continued Cleary.
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