August 6, 2012
Image Source: Flickr User @Doug88888
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between 175 Parties (governments). Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Today, it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 30,000 species of animals and plants, including elephants.
In January 2012 EarthAction asked people everywhere to send a message to their nation’s representative on the CITES ‘Animals Committee’ and ask them to move elephants from their current Appendix II classification, back to the more protected Appendix 1 classification where they were originally placed in 1979. Unfortunately, the Animals Committee didn’t consider the issue of elephants at their March 2012 meeting.
This reclassification of elephants to the Appendix I list would ban all new trade in ivory and allow for strict monitoring of the sale and transport of ivory with the expected result being a dramatic decrease in black market trade. Many countries oppose this change. Under their current classification, it is estimated that every year 38,000 elephants are killed for ivory sales on the black market. We must act to make our voices ring louder than theirs and fight to protect Africa's elephants.
The CITES Conference of the Parties (COP), with representatives of all nations that have ratified the treaty, meets every three years. Their next meeting, COP 16, is set for March 2013. The deadline for a nation to submit a proposal for consideration of moving elephants from Appendix II to Appendix I is 4 October 2012.
Contact your nation’s CITES representative (available at cites.org) and ask them to submit a resolution to the CITES Secretariat to reassign elephants to Appendix I classification for consideration at the March 2013 CITES COP. Remind them that they must make this submission by October 4, 2012.
Note: At the previous CITES COP in 2010, it was decided that there would be no discussion of moving elephants from one classification to another for 9 years (3 COPs). This was not a binding decision however, and it needs to be overturned in light of the growing trade in ivory and murder of elephants.
SAMPLE MESSAGE (to be sent by email, telephone, or post) TO YOUR NATION’S CITES REPRESENTATIVE:
Dear CITES Representative for [your country],
I am writing out of deep concern for the remaining elephants of the world. As our nation’s representative to CITES, I respectfully ask that you do everything in your power to see that our country submits a resolution to the CITES Secretariat by 4 October 2012 calling for the reassignment of elephants to Appendix I classification at the CITES COP set for March 2013. I urge you to give elephants the highest amount of protection. Please keep me informed of what action our government takes on this issue.
[your name, organization (if applicable), and contact information]