International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) quoted reports today as suggesting that Tanzania has decided to withdraw its controversial proposal to sell over 100,000kg of ivory to China and Japan.
The proposal was due to be debated in March at the next CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.
“We welcome the decision by the Tanzanian authorities to withdraw their proposal to sell government stockpiles of ivory,” said Azzedine Downes, President and CEO of IFAW.
“With this proposal off the table at the parties to CITES and IFAW can concentrate on working together to stop the horrific trafficking in ivory that is threatening the existence of some elephant populations.
2011 was the worst year on record for ivory seizures and 2012 has seen numerous seizures over 1000kg.”
Official confirmation of the withdrawal has not yet been posted on the CITES website.
The proposal included a downlisting from Appendix I to Appendix II of the Convention. This would have been a necessary step prior to ivory trade being allowed.
Tanzania had previously declared that it would not be submitting a proposal to sell ivory stockpiles at a meeting of African environment ministers in September, but then submitted a proposal on 4 October, 2012.
Similar proposals at the last CITES CoP (Conference of the Parties) held in 2010 in Doha, Qatar from Tanzania and Zambia proved extremely divisive amongst attendees including numerous elephant range states.
“We’re in the midst of a global ivory war at the moment. Authorities in Chad and Cameroon have deployed hundreds of soldiers while Malaysia had the second-largest ivory seizure of all time last week,” said Paul Todd, IFAW International Policy Director.
“With this proposal off the table, CITES can now turn its attention to what it is meant to do – protect elephants and other endangered species from trade before they are wiped out.”
Numerous other proposals remain on the table for the March CITES meeting includingto halt commercial trade in polar bears, stop the decimation of shark populations due to shark finning and increase protection for the rhinoceros.