More than 135 cities will join the Global March for Elephant, Rhino and Lion on the opening day of Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) to demand these species are listed as Appendix 1 to offer the highest protection possible. The Melbourne event will start at 11am at Alexandra Gardens, walking down South Bank to Red Stair Amphitheatre.
Despite the serious message, this event is asking people to onesie up for wildlife and #MarchAsOnesie for a family friendly event. We want children to be engaged as the future guardians of these animals, to reconnect them to the natural world and show that we deeply care about the plight of Africa’s wildlife, the environment and all species.
In communities worldwide, extinction anxiety is building and more-and-more concerned citizens are turning to their governments to ask them to step into the void and enact domestic bans.
The continued slaughter due to poaching, trade, illegal trafficking, human animal conflict and loss of habitat is pushing these species to extinction. If world leaders and Governments around the world don’t take immediate action they will disappear before our very eyes.
The recent elephant census has chilling results. The only place where elephants aren’t being decimated is Kruger National Park in South Africa but then we hear there are whispers of a cull due to the current drought. Heartbreaking news to hear that 26 elephants have been poached in one of the last safe houses in Africa – Botswana.
The demand on wildlife products from Asia and specifically Vietnam is having a brutal impact. We’re at a loss to understand why there’s still discussion and debate about opening trade on rhino horn and ivory. Despite tough border security Australia is complicit with more than enough evidence of items for sale through retail stores, auction houses and online – many aren’t antiques and certainly don’t have appropriate paperwork.
There’s also concern that the burgeoning taxidermy industry does fall outside the capacity for officers to appropriately investigate, only able to seize illegal products but lack the authority to question or search.
If the slaughter continues at current levels, elephants, rhinos and lions face extinction in the wild within a generation.
But this is not an inevitable scenario, if all countries act now to eliminate demand by closing domestic ivory markets. If demand ends, the poaching will too, giving elephants and rhinos a chance to recover their numbers. The CITES conference is where critical decisions affecting the future of these species will be made, may be the last chance to take bold, principled steps that will give elephants, rhinos and lion a final lifeline to survival.
The captive breeding and canned hunting operations in South Africa feed the lion bone trade and despite Australia banning the importation of lion trophies and body parts in March last year, with France and the Netherlands following and the US putting strict import laws in place other countries are slow to act. The change in Government in the UK has put back efforts by local NGO’s with their Government seeking advice from Safari Club International, one of the drivers of canned lion hunting. You have to question the moral code of any human who thinks killing a hand reared animal in a fenced area is ethical or even possible to be considered “hunting”. Despite the fees paid for a hunt, the carcass remains the property of the farmer who can further profit by selling to the Asian market for approximately $5000 a carcass.
“Unless immediate action is taken by all countries to put an end to the ivory and horn trade, we may be the last generation to see elephants and rhinos in the wild,” said Denise Dresner of Action for Elephants UK. “We hope everyone who cares about their survival will join the march on September 24th and demand action from their governments to save them.”
We ask that Australia takes decisive and clear action now, within it’s own jurisdiction, to target the matters at the very heart of this issue: consumer demand and legal domestic markets.
A domestic ban would close down markets which ultimately provide a means to legally dispose of illegal rhino horn and ivory – an activity that undermines the rule of law, international trade bans and the CITES processes. A publicly announced domestic ban would help to reaffirm ivory and rhino horn as unacceptable commodities.
As a collective we ask for action throughout the Oceanic region. It’s time for courageous and visionary leadership from all corners of the globe, to ‘do their bit’ to stop the slaughter. Too much is being asked of Africa’s wildlife, particularly the elephants, rhino and lion, under the ‘if it pays it stays’ approach – animals have a right to exist, well beyond being viewed as mere commodities.
We commend the Australian Government on their global leadership as demonstrated with the implementation of a ban on the importation of lion trophies and body parts – a visionary and courageous step taken by Minister Greg Hunt. Announced in March 2015, months before the death of Cecil, this ban could well be considered the biggest step for lion conservation.
We cannot bear to be witness to the continued annihilation of these animals and on this day, we mark the CITES CoP17 in Johannesburg and the Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions commencing on 24 September 2016, we stand as one, we stand for wildlife.
We are very proud to have guest speakers Lynn Johnson, Breaking the Brand, Fiona Gordon, Gordon Consulting New Zealand (thanks to IFAW) and Director of For the Love of Wildlife, Donalea Patman presenting at the event.