Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Editorial Letters

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Editorial Letters

Article excerpt

Signs That the Ivory Ban Is Working

Regarding the article "Why the Ivory Ban is Failing," March 20: The authors accuse the International Wildlife Coalition of having given a false impression that elephants were endangered. In fact, two independent scientific studies, one by more than 30 experts, concluded in 1989 that if poaching levels continued, elephants risked extinction throughout Africa within a few decades, despite the healthy populations in southern Africa. The ban has prevented that.

The authors say only that poaching has increased in some countries. They neglect to tell us that this followed a massive drop in poaching levels immediately after the ban, particularly in East Africa. Even with the increases, poaching is at a far lower level than it was before. In Kenya, for example, poaching has reportedly risen from 30 to 50 animals a year immediately after the ban to about 200 today - but compared with pre-ban levels of 2,000 to 4,000 a year, this is minor. The authors cite a 1994 study that has been sharply criticized by a number of respected elephant biologists. But even that study failed to conclude that the ban was not working. Indeed, 70 percent of the African wildlife-management staff interviewed for the study support the ban. The authors also state that Kenya's director of wildlife, David Western, has "radically reversed" his position on letting local communities benefit from wildlife use as a result of Zimbabwe's CAMPFIRE program. In fact, Kenya has had such programs in place since at least 1990. According to elephant biologist Cynthia Moss, Dr. Western does not intend to allow elephant hunting in Kenya and remains a strong supporter of the ban. The majority of African countries with elephants strongly support the ban. Last October, President Nelson Mandela wrote in a South African magazine that his country's 1994 proposal to sell elephant hides "was withdrawn because it did not meet with the approval of other African nations." Since 1989, support for the ban has increased in Africa, except in countries such as Zimbabwe and Namibia. In the magazine article, Mr. Mandela said his government, formerly an opponent of the ban, had made "a commitment to oppose any moves to reopen international commerce in ivory. …

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