A new study confirms what conservationists like the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) have long stated; the experimental one-off ivory stockpile sale in 2008 was the catalyst for the widespread elephant poaching epidemic that the world is facing now.
“The study’s findings indicate our position that that these one-off sales are in fact death sentences for elephants, said IFAW President and CEO Azzedine Downes.
“Approximately 20,000 elephant were killed for their tusks last year alone.”
“The battle to save elephants is taking place on so many fronts—from front-line counter poaching operations, disrupting trafficking networks and demand reduction programs in consumer countries such as China. One-off ivory sales are completely counter-productive to these conservation efforts.”
Zimbabwe and Namibia plan to put forward a proposal requesting another legal ivory sale at the next Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species CoP17 (CITES) meeting in September in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“I concur with the study; one-off ivory sales led us to the current elephant crisis,” said Grace Ge Gabriel IFAW’s Asia Regional Director. “The legal trade clearly removed the stigma attached to buying ivory thus fueling demand. This left confused customers, rich criminals and dead elephants.”
“We must learn from the lessons of the past and not repeat the same mistakes. Ivory sales belong in the history books, and any proposals for one-off sales can and must be rejected. If not, we know that elephants will pay the ultimate price.”
The findings were published in The National Bureau of Economic Research by Solomon Hsiang and Nitin Sekar.