- Conservationists have raised new fears on protection of elephants population after it was announced that more than 108 tonnes of stashed elephant ivory in southern Africa will be auctioned between 28 October and 6 November.
Groups stated that there is fear that Africa and Asia's most vulnerable elephant populations will not withstand increased levels of poaching predicted to happen due to these sales.
In spite of an international outcry from scientists and conservationists, members of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) reportedly approved ivory auction, taking place in Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
"We are deeply concerned that these sales will open floodgates to additional illegal trade," said Will Travers, chief executive officer of Born Free Foundation, a member of Species Survival Network.
"For some inexplicable reason, some people think that all elephant populations are adequately protected and thriving. Nothing could be further from the truth. For many of most vulnerable elephant populations across Africa, any increased poaching pressure will almost certainly result in localised extinction in near future," Mr Travers.
A report issued by Born Free yesterday shows that decision to approve China as a trading partner earlier this year, supported by United Kingdom (UK) is already having serious consequences for elephants across Africa.
It further says that disturbing reports from Virunga National Park in Republic of Congo indicate that more than 10% of its elephant population have been lost to gangs of ivory poachers this year alone.
Zakouma National Park in Chad is reportedly suffering a similar fate, with more than 700 elephants being poached each year for their valuable ivory tusks.
"UK, speaking on behalf of European Union (EU), played a significant and, in my view, shameful role in decision to approve this ivory sale, and yet appears unwilling to take responsibility for decisions they have made," Mr Travers said.
Born Free is said to have requested secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, to intervene in matter.
Between 1979 and 1989, more than 600,000 elephants were reportedly killed for their ivory. Elephant population plummeted from 1.3 million to just 600,000, with African elephant populations at around 475,000, current estimates show.
Born Free Foundation is an international wildlife charity, devoted to compassionate conservation and animal welfare. It takes action worldwide to protect threatened species and stop individual animal suffering.
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