South Africa Rejects Moves To Burn Ivory Stockpiles


Ivory stockpiles are heaped tonnes of elephant tusks amassed by either individuals or countries. For decades now, so many countries have destroyed their ivory stockpiles with the aim of curbing illegal transaction of elephant ivory. This act is called Wildlife crime. Also, another reason why countries destroy ivory stockpiles is to put to a halt the incessant killing of elephants.

Recently, South Africa has vehemently kicked against supports gained by CITES for campaigning for the destruction of government ivory stockpiles confiscated from ivory traffickers and poachers. It attributed CITES’s actions to numerous governments that support ivory stockpile destruction.

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The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between governments with the vision of ensuring that international transactions in specimen of wild animals and plants do not mar their existence and survival. CITES was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in  a meeting of members of IUCN (The World Conservation Union) in 1963.

IUCN stands for The international Union for Conservation of Nature. It was founded in 1948 at Fontainebleau, France by Julian Huxley. It’s headquarter is located at Gland, Switzerland. IUCN’s primary aim is to promote sustainable use of natural resources.

Thea Carroll who was South Africa’s representative at the meeting, made it clear that,

“South Africa is concerned about the negative consequences of destroying stockpiles.”

Also, it is clear that South Africa’s refusal depicts the country’s interest in maintaining it’s wildlife business on ivory. More so, analysts and standing committee members’ votes for the suspension of talks on legalizing ivory trade speak volume of South Africa’s untamed interest in the business.

Airing his view, the chairperson of the Species Survival Network and CEO of Born Free Foundation, Will Travers said that South Africa’s refusal to destroy it’s ivory stockpiles “implies that the country endorses future trading of ivory”.

It is pertinent to note that since 1989, 14 countries have burnt more than 139 tons of ivory stockpiles. Not only that, 11 countries have publicly destroyed 80 tons of ivory stock piles. And since 2011, 10 countries have openly burnt their ivory stockpiles and these countries are: India, Kenya, France, Gabon, the Philippines, United States, Chad, Belgium, Portugal and China (including Hong Kong).

Also, Mozambique on July 6, 2015 carried out it’s ivory stockpile burning. Reports said that officials burnt over 2.4 tons of ivory and 440 pounds of rhino horn. It went further to say that bulk of ivory burnt (including rhino horn) were released by the police, who made tangible seizures in the month of May 2015. However, following the seizure, about 12 rhino horns were unfortunately stolen from the Mozambique police.

It is evident that the demand for ivory is on an alarming increase in recent times and this alone has led to the killing of over 30,000 elephants every year in Africa alone, irrespective of the fact that international trading of ivory trade was banned by CITES in 1989.

There have been desperate agitations for ivory destruction to be legally backed-up with additional law enforcement efforts in order to restrict and fight against poaching and trafficking.  Also, concerned bodies demanded for a stronger judicial process to put to an end exemption from punishment granted to wildlife criminals.

On Wednesday 29th April 2015, the governments of Dubai in United Arab Emirate and Brazzaville of the Republic of Congo publicly destroyed their ivory stockpiles. This move was aimed at burying illegal ivory trade in the two distant countries.

It would also be recalled that at the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade in February 2014, countries like Botswana, Ethiopia, Gabon, Chad and Tanzania launched the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI). Uganda, Gambia, and Malawi reportedly  joined the league later on.

Taking a clue from the future, there are tendencies that CITES will not approve ivory transactions because statistics show that 100,000 elephants were killed in Africa between 2010–2012, and an estimated number of 400,000 elephants are remaining.

Imperatively, CITES legally binds on parties, and adherence to CITES regulations is voluntary. However, each party (ally countries) is expected to adopt it’s rules (which do not substitute national laws), which must ensure that CITES rules are implemented at national levels of individual countries.

ivory stockpiles

How does CITES work?

CITES regulates international trade in species by including species on one of three Appendices.

Appendix I – species cannot be traded internationally for primarily commercial purposes. (Example of species under Appendix I: tiger, Himalayan brown bear, elephant, and Tibetan antelope)

Appendix II – species can be traded internationally for commercial purposes, but within strict regulations, requiring determinations of sustainability and legality. (Example of species under Appendix II: Hippopotamus, bigleaf mahogany, and the gray wolf)

Appendix III – a species included at the request of a country which then needs the cooperation of other countries to help prevent illegal exploitation. (Example of species under Appendix III: walrus, Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth, and the red-breasted toucan)

Since the Convention entered into force, more than 30,000 species of animals and plants have been listed on its Appendices, from tigers and elephants to mahogany and orchids.


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