For use of the media
not an official document.
CITES Secretary-General to oversee ivory sales
Geneva, 22 October 2008 – The Secretary-General of the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild
Fauna and Flora (CITES), Mr Willem Wijnstekers, will visit Botswana,
Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe during the next two weeks to
supervise closely the ivory sales that the member States of the
Convention agreed to in June 2007, in The Hague.
the margins of the four ivory auctions, Mr Wijnstekers will also
hold talks with Chinese and Japanese authorities, as well as traders,
about the details of further supervisory activities of the Secretariat
upon arrival of the ivory in those countries and thereafter.
The proceeds of the sales must be used exclusively for elephant
conservation and community development programmes within or adjacent
to the elephant range. The revenues are expected to boost the
countries' capacity to conserve biodiversity, strengthen enforcement
controls and contribute to the livelihoods of the rural people
in southern Africa. All this without affecting negatively African
and Asian elephant populations.
Under an agreement reached in The Hague in 2007, Botswana, Namibia,
South Africa and Zimbabwe were authorized to make a single sale
of a total of 108 tons of government-owned ivory. The following
quantities of raw ivory registered by 31 January 2007 have been
approved for sale: Botswana: 43,682.91 kg, Namibia: 9,209.68 kg,
South Africa: 51,121.8 kg, and Zimbabwe: 3,755.55 kg.
Elephant populations of the four countries are in Appendix II
of CITES, which means that, even though they are not necessarily
now threatened with extinction, the trade in their products is
strictly regulated. Recent studies concluded that over 312,000
elephants live in these four countries and that their number has
increased in recent years.
The CITES Standing Committee, which oversees the implementation
of CITES between the major conferences, gave the go-ahead to the
one-off sale of ivory last July by approving China as the second
importing country. Japan had been approved earlier.
Each sale is to consist of a single shipment per destination
and may only go to China and Japan, whose internal controls on
ivory sales comply with the required verification standards established
by CITES for this one-off sale.
Between March and April 2008, the CITES Secretariat conducted
missions to these four countries and verified that the declared
ivory stocks had been properly registered by 31 January 2007;
consisted solely of ivory of legal origin (excluding seized ivory
and ivory of unknown origin); and had been marked according to
CITES requirements. They also verified that their weights were
in accordance with the relevant records. This involved the checking
and comparison of computerized databases and thousands of paper
records, as well as the physical inspection and examination of
hundreds of randomly-selected tusks and ivory pieces. In each
case, the findings of the audits were satisfactory.
The CITES Secretariat is monitoring the Chinese and Japanese
domestic trade controls to ensure that unscrupulous traders do
not take this opportunity to sell ivory of illegal origin.
The 2007 African agreement stipulates that after these shipments
have been completed, no new proposals for further sales from the
four countries concerned are to be considered by CITES during
a resting period of nine years that will commence as soon as the
new sales have been completed.
Note to journalists: For more information,
contact Juan-Carlos Vasquez at +41-22-917-8156 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
read previous press releases, go to Archives.