Sadly, the New Zealand Government will continue trailing world leaders in saving elephants and rhino from extinction, saying it will not introduce a ban to stop the domestic sale of ivory and rhino horn.
The Government’s intention comes despite phenomenal public support for a ban. Over the past month more than 2,000 letters have been sent to Parliament calling for the government to stop the sale of ivory and rhino horn in the country.
As we continue losing one elephant every 15 minutes and a rhino every eight hours to poaching, governments around the world have announced plans to end their domestic trade of ivory and rhino horn. China announced its ivory and rhino horn ban last year, with Hong Kong also announcing its ban to stop the sale of ivory by 2021. Tougher regulations for ivory trade are already in place in the US.
Australia is also tackling the issue with Federal MP Jason Wood tabling in the House of Representatives, the elephant and rhino poaching crisis, and Australia’s domestic trade in Parliament just last week.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime cites New Zealand as a source, transit and destination for wildlife contraband, reporting the country’s “staggering” number of confiscations. Seizures have doubled to almost 6,000 in 2015.
The National Government considers New Zealand’s domestic trade in ivory to be made up of “functional” products – bagpipes and pianos – and old statutes and carvings. This is despite a nine-month investigation by IFAW showing that 60% of ivory in New Zealand’s domestic market is carvings, statutes and tusks. Furthermore, less than one in 10 of the ivory lots had any documentation showing evidence of their age or origin.
Considering the IUCN and CITES have called on all nations to close their domestic ivory markets, the news from New Zealand is extremely disappointing. With the real threat that our elephants and rhinos will be extinct in the next ten years, we need leadership and immediate action from all nations, including New Zealand.
International press include the following: