The Australian government will be asked to enact a total ban on the domestic trade of elephant ivory and rhino horn in a communiqué that will be hand delivered to Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg on Monday 26 September.
Signed by over 50 conservation organisations from around the world, the ban would be a move to ensure Australia commits to playing its role in saving elephants and rhinos from extinction in the wild in the near future.
The communique will be presented by Australian NGO founders Donalea Patman (For the Love of Wildlife) and Dr Lynn Johnson (Breaking The Brand) together with Fiona Gordon of New Zealand based environmental firm Gordon Consulting and Rebecca Keeble of International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
In 2014 Ms Patman took the plight of Africa’s lions and the canned hunting industry to her local MP Jason Wood. Just 18 months later the former Environment Minister Greg Hunt made the decision for Australia to be the first country to ban lion trophies and body parts from entering the country. The ban was implemented just months before Cecil the famous lion was killed.
Since then, France and the Netherlands have followed Australia by banning lion trophies. The United States has severely restricted import laws to curb the canned hunting and captive breeding industries.
Ms Patman said that despite Australia’s strict border controls, the sale of ivory and rhino horn has been seen in shopping strips, auction houses and online. IFAW has released it’s report“Under the Hammer” which exposes the rampant trade, showing just how much is traded in the oceania region.
“This simply isn’t good enough given 30 per cent of elephants have been wiped out in the last seven years and rhinos are being butchered on a daily basis.
“Lions are being farmed for hunting and to satisfy a growing demand for their bones,” she said.
The communique coincides with the opening of 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). Protection levels and whether or not to legalise trade of products from these animals will be on the agenda.
“Australia is geographically positioned and complicit in the illegal trade and it is time that we see a greater effort to combat trade,” Ms Patman said.
“It would seem that Australian laws are not fully enforced. Auction houses self-regulate and without enough officers in the field, there is a staggering rise in wildlife items for sale.
“An ivory shipment was discovered at Perth airport last year and an investigation by South African Airways found the cargo was mislabelled. Despite communication from the government, we are uncertain as to the outcome and what happened to the ivory,” she said.
Ms Patman is also co-hosting this Saturday’s Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions together with My Green World. The march calls for member nations of CITES to vote for the strongest protection levels for elephants, rhinos and lions, and to vote against legalising trade of products made from their body parts.
“We are fast running out of time to save these animals from extinction,” Ms Patman said.
“With what we know to date, we will see these species gone within the next 10 years,” she said.
The letter to the Minister states: “We cannot bear to be witness to the continued annihilation of these animals. As we mark the start of CITES CoP17 in Johannesburg and the Global March for Elephant, Rhino and Lion, on 24 September 2016 in Australia and around the world, we stand as one, we stand for wildlife and ask the Australian Federal Government to enact a complete ban on the domestic trade of rhino horn and elephant ivory.”
Donalea Patman – Director, For the Love of Wildlife
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