Parliamentary Inquiry recommends full domestic trade ban in ivory and rhino horn

The Australian Joint Committee on Law Enforcement parliamentary inquiry report, chaired by Craig Kelly MP, recommends a full domestic trade ban.

This is an incredibly positive step in Australia fulfilling its obligations as a signatory to CITES to address it’s unregulated domestic trade.

We’ve been working with Jason Wood MP over the past 2.5 years to expose the depth of wildlife trafficking in Australia and that the industry is unregulated and unenforced, allowing rampant trade in ivory and rhino horn.

We’ve provided evidence including auction rooms and antique dealers who openly flout the law, advising prospective customers how to get items in and out of the country illegally.

Read full report here:

Parliamentary Inquiry Report

 

Australia…we have blood on our hands

Australian filmmakers Augusta Miller and Michael Dahlstrom are backing a call on the Australian Government to ban the sale of ivory and rhino horn in Australia.

The pair joined forces with conservation group For the Love of Wildlife to create a social media commercial driving home a message that Australia has blood on its hands whilst allowing trade in ivory and rhino horn. It comes ahead of the outcome of the Parliamentary Inquiry into Australia’s ivory and rhino horn trade.

Miller said she felt compelled to do something to make a difference when she learned these items could still be sold in Australia.

“Like most Australians I had no idea that it’s still legal to sell ivory and rhino horn. When I found out I felt overwhelmed by a desire to do something about it.

“It’s despicable. It needs to stop. It’s the only ethical choice,” she said.

Dahlstrom agreed with the need to end the trade to ensure the survival of two of the world’s most iconic animals which are now facing extinction.

“It’s unfathomable that we’re allowing this trade to continue when one elephant is killed every 15 minutes for its ivory, and a rhino every eight hours for its horn.

“Unless our government takes action to end it, we’ve all got blood on our hands,” he said.

Miller’s mother, actress Sandy Gore, provided the voiceover for the commercial after hearing about the parliamentary inquiry into the trade.

“In the 1970s I was gifted two ivory bracelets. At the time I was in my early 20’s and had no concept of the degree of devastation these items had caused for elephants.

“I can’t change what happened to those elephants but I can do something now, however small, to give back and say enough is enough,” she said.

In March this year the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement launched the inquiry into Australia’s ivory and rhino horn trade. Evidence has been heard from the Department of Environment, non-government organisations, antiques and auction industry, Customs and online selling platforms including Facebook.

While the importing and exporting of ivory and rhino horn is regulated, it remains legal to buy and sell domestically.

For the Love of Wildlife has been working closely with Federal MP Jason Wood to end Australia’s ivory and rhino horn trade. The group has released shocking footage of antique dealers selling ivory they can’t determine the age of and advising customers how to illegally smuggle it out of the country.

Founding Director, Donalea Patman said damning evidence of the extent of wildlife trafficking in Australia had been presented through the inquiry and that there is overwhelming support to ban the ivory and rhino horn trade.

“It’s naively assumed any ivory and rhino horn in Australia must have entered the country legally, yet we’ve seen that the systems used to regulate international trade such as the CITES permit system and trade database have major shortfalls,” she said.

“Through the inquiry we’ve heard Australians are ordering ‘kill on demand’ for ivory and rhino horn from Tanzania and Kenya. We also heard of a case in Australia where a trafficker was caught with several rhino horns, ivory and cash, but was never prosecuted despite a water tight case.

“Traffickers already have a perception of wildlife crime being a low-risk, high-reward activity and Australia perpetuates this,” Patman said.

In response to those who believe Australia’s trade may be small compared to countries like China or Vietnam, Patman says the true volume of Australia’s trade is unknown.

“We’ve witnessed thousands of items for sale across just a handful of stores and online platforms, and in all of these cases, there wasn’t any documentation to prove an item’s age or legality. At best, sellers guess the age of items based on visual appearance.

“As long as our government allows for a legal domestic trade, we’ll continue providing opportunities for traffickers to launder illegal ivory and rhino horn into our legal domestic market,” she said.

“It makes us complicit in the poaching crisis and it’s a responsibility the Australian Government cannot ignore.

“We’re deeply touched and incredibly grateful to Augusta, Michael and their team for creating such a powerful ad with a message that we know will hit home for all Australians,” she said.

The ad can be seen at fortheloveofwildlife.org.au

In April this year the UK Government announced its ban on the domestic sale of ivory in a bid to help protect elephants. The move came after a public consultation process where more than 60,000 people showed their support to end the trade.

We need you to help stop the trade of elephant ivory and rhino horn in Australia.

Write to the Minister for the Environment, Hon Melissa Price MP TODAY.

Here’s a sample email you can copy and paste to the Minister at Melissa.Price.MP@aph.gov.au

Dear Minister

Every day that the domestic trade in elephant ivory or rhino horn continues, Australia legitimises the desire for these luxury wildlife ‘products’, stimulates demand and drives the current rhino and elephant killing spree.

Any legal market, including Australia’s, provides an opportunity to launder recently poached, illegal ivory and rhino horn and, as such, contributes to poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. 

I want Australia to take a stand and legislate for a complete domestic trade ban on elephant ivory and rhino horn, no matter the age.

Yours sincerely

 

How we have tried to stop this brutal trade in Australia.

For the Love of Wildlife has been working with its collaborative partners NatureNeedsMore and Gordon Consulting for the past two years, investigating Australia’s domestic trade in ivory and rhino horn.

Africa’s iconic elephants and rhinos are facing crisis with one elephant killed every 15 minutes for its tusks and one rhino every eight hours for its horn. At this rate experts are predicting they could be extinct in the next 10 years.

Australia’s trade in ivory and rhino horn provides opportunity for items from recently killed elephants and rhinos to be sold through our markets. The demand (in any country) is driving the brutal killing spree. Alarmingly, there are no checks and balances in Australia’s unregulated trade to prevent items from recently killed elephants and rhinos being sold in our own backyard.

From left to right: Rebecca Keeble (IFAW), Dr Lynn Johnson (NatureNeedsMore), Fiona Gordon (Gordon Consulting), Minister Josh Frydenberg and Donalea Patman (For the Love of Wildlife).

In September 2016 we met with Energy and Environment Minister, Josh Frydenberg with a communique calling for a full domestic trade ban. The response from the government was that the trade in Australia isn’t contributing to the poaching crisis and our laws, regulations and processes are sufficient to ensure this isn’t the case. The communique was signed and supported by 56 Australian and international organisations. This warranted immediate action.

It wasn’t enough.

Part of the Federal Government’s response was that the issue of domestic trade and enforcement rests with State governments, not Federal. So we wrote to the Environment Ministers for each state to ask them. As we expected, the responses stated that the domestic trade is indeed a Federal Government responsibility. This also warranted immediate action.

It wasn’t enough.

We then called on members of the Australian public to write letters and upload images to social media to demonstrate their support for stopping this brutal trade and do our part in stopping the poaching crisis.

All of the people we spoke to were genuinely shocked that it’s still legal to buy and sell ivory and rhino horn in Australia, and believe that it should be banned. Hundreds of letters were sent to Minister Frydenberg’s office and hundreds of photos were uploaded to social media. This demonstrated strong support from the public for a domestic trade ban.

This wasn’t enough.

In August 2017 a workshop was held with key stakeholders working with a Federal MP to share our findings and the evidence we’d collected. Following the workshop we provided the Department of Environment and Energy with draft legislation for a domestic trade ban. We’ve heard nothing back from the government on this draft.

It wasn’t enough.

We rallied the public on World Wildlife Day – Saturday 3 March 2018 – and hosted Australia’s first ivory and rhino horn crush event in Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne. The event was attended by Federal MP Jason Wood to show the world that the only value ivory and rhino horn has is on a living animal. Hundreds of people came to show their support with people surrendering items they had bought, been gifted or inherited from family members, for crushing.

Australia’s first public crush of ivory and rhino horn on World Wildlife Day, 3 March 2018. Demonstrating that the only value is on a living animal. (Jason Wood MP in hat crushing ivory).

Internationally applauded designer Collette Dinnigan AO was event Ambassador and the call for a domestic trade ban gained overwhelming support from high profile individuals including Aussie rock legend John Farnham, actress Asher Keddie, Dr Jane Goodall and former NZ Prime Minister, Helen Clark.

The Melbourne Crush received attention from a variety of media including 7 News, The Age, ABC, National Geographic and international agencies.

This STILL wasn’t enough.

On 28 March 2018, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement initiated an inquiry into the trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn.

We must make sure this is enough.

This is the last window to make sure the Australian Government hears your loud and clear call for a full domestic trade ban on ivory and rhino horn.

If you feel passionately about this, and we know you do, then we ask that you write and include your voice in the submission process. Take action and be part of doing something real to stop the brutal slaughter of elephants and rhinos through a submission for this inquiry. It’s time this ugly trade is #Gone4Good.

We MUST have an overwhelming response so that there’s NO question that Australia enacts a FULL DOMESTIC TRADE BAN.

What will it take?

The Government has evidence to act. Whilst they go about “business as usual” we are watching elephants and rhinos disappear before our very eyes.

Write to Minister for the Environment Hon Melissa Price MP TODAY.

Here’s a sample email you can copy and paste to the Minister at Melissa.Price.MP@aph.gov.au

Dear Minister

Every day that the domestic trade in elephant ivory or rhino horn continues, Australia legitimises the desire for these luxury wildlife ‘products’, stimulates demand and drives the current rhino and elephant killing spree.

Any legal market, including Australia’s, provides an opportunity to launder recently poached, illegal ivory and rhino horn and, as such, contributes to poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.

I want Australia to take a stand and legislate for a complete domestic trade ban on elephant ivory and rhino horn, no matter the age.

Yours sincerely