Delegates from around the world gathered in Geneva, Switzerland on Saturday, August 17, 2019 to discuss whether allowing limited trade in elephant tusks and rhinoceros horn could help to protect these species.
The meeting brings together the 183 countries that have signed on to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), a 1973 pact that places curbs and bans on the cross-border sale of some 5,000 animal and 30,000 plant species.
Several countries in southern Africa back proposals to end the ban on ivory and rhino horn exports, arguing these animal populations have become large enough to warrant such rule changes.
They also argue that local communities need income from limited hunting and trophy trade, to guarantee that local people back animal conservation efforts.
“The contribution of conservation and legal wildlife trade to sustainable development is evident,’’ CITES’ Secretary-General, Ivonne Higuero, told the 3,000 delegates in Geneva.
“Tourism is a part of the solution, but we also need to find other solutions related to legal trade in order to make the right investments and develop sustainable industries,’’ Higuero said.
However, conservation activists warn that such steps would encourage poachers and countries with elephants in other African regions are also opposed to allowing hunting and the export of trophies.
During the conference, which runs until Aug. 28, delegates will also mull a proposal to regulate the sale of woolly mammoth tusks, which have been the source of concern due to their similarity to ivory.
The species has been extinct for thousands of years.
In addition, stricter rules for giraffes and for popular exotic pets such as tarantulas and lizards are also on the agenda.