LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary embraces global plant-based food trend and joins HSI’s Green Monday South Africa movement
Humane Society International / Africa
JOHANNESBURG—FOUR PAWS South Africa and LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary have teamed up with Humane Society International/Africa to join the global movement towards more plant-based, sustainable food by launching a meat-free Monday campaign alongside the opening of the sanctuary’s new restaurant.
The restaurant will offer 100% meat-free meals (of which 80% will be vegan) every Monday, and a selection of these plant-based dishes will be available on a daily basis. The new earth-friendly menu will launch on World Animal Day, 4 October 2019, to raise awareness of the destructive impact large-scale animal agriculture has on the planet and our wildlife, such as deforestation, drought, pollution and climate change.
The restaurant’s decision to introduce more plant-based options was inspired by HSI/Africa’s Green Monday SA meat-reduction initiative, encouraging South Africans to eat plant-based at least one day every week to improve their health, reduce their carbon footprint and make a positive difference to the lives of farm animals. HSI/Africa provided plant-based culinary training to LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary’s chefs to help develop the new green menus.
Leozette Roode, media and outreach manager for HSI/Africa, said: “Many South Africans are aware of the negative impacts of a meat-based diet on their health and the planet, but most have not considered the implications of their food-choices on our wildlife. Animal agriculture is a leading cause of habit destruction and wildlife extinction, so reducing our meat consumption and eating more plant-based meals is something everyone can do every day to help the planet. Reducing or replacing meat allows us to farm more sustainably, reduce our carbon and water footprints, and help save animals – including farm animals, aquatic species and wildlife. By joining HSI/Africa’s Green Monday SA campaign and serving 100% meat-free meals, FOUR PAWS and LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary are spreading the vital message that we can stand up for animals every time we sit down to eat.”
LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in Bethlehem was established by the animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS South Africa in 2006. Fiona Miles, director of FOUR PAWS, said: “We are committed to joining the Green Monday SA movement and reducing meat consumption at LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary – giving our guests the opportunity to help even more animals. We are extremely excited to add plant-based dishes to our menu that are not only tasty, but healthy and sustainable too.”
Animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors to climate change and deforestation which impacts the survival of wildlife globally. With more than 1 billion land animals reared and slaughtered in South Africa for the food industry every year, industrial scale animal agriculture impacts our wildlife in detrimental ways.
Four ways in which a meat-based diet kills wildlife:
Raising livestock and growing the crops used to feed farm animals require vast amounts of arable land. Often wildlife-rich areas (such as the Amazon rainforest, that homes over 3 million species of plants and animals) are destroyed to create space for monocrops like soy and maize. This deforestation leads to habitat loss and destruction of wildlife species.
Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are released during meat, egg and milk production. In South Africa, animal agriculture accounts for 60% of total agricultural carbon dioxide. These gases increase the chances for severe weather events like droughts and fires. Many wildlife species are suffering due to a lack of water in the extreme droughts South Africa has faced over the past couple of years.
Animal agriculture pollutes our water when animal manure, leftover animal feed and chemicals used to grow crops are flushed into our water systems. In some areas, this causes eutrophication in our water – an increased production of algae and phytoplankton that leads to algal blooms. These blooms produce deadly toxins that kill fish, marine mammals and seabirds and harm humans and wildlife.
To protect their livestock from being hunted by big cats and other carnivores, farmers often implementcruel lethal predator control methods using traps and poison. Many predators are also shot or trapped and killed when approaching livestock farms.
We can all stand up for animals every time we sit down to eat by reducing the number of animal products we eat.
For more information about Green Monday SA and the programs implemented in South Africa, visit greenmondayza.org.
Humane Society International/Africa: Leozette Roode, media and outreach manager, 0713601104, email@example.com
WASHINGTON— The Trump administration has authorized a U.S. hunter to import a lion trophy from Tanzania — the first allowed from that country since lions were given protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in January 2016. A Florida man received permission to import the lion’s skin, skull, claws and teeth, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service records belatedly released under the Freedom of Information Act.
The decision likely signals that the Fish and Wildlife Service is approving, or will approve, lion and other wildlife trophy imports from Tanzania, despite that nation’s troubling history of mismanaging populations of lions, elephants and other imperiled animals. Many — likely more than two-thirds — of the permit findings would apply to other applications for Tanzanian trophy imports.
The Florida hunter was represented by attorney John Jackson, a member of the Trump administration’s International Wildlife Conservation Council, an advisory board that promotes trophy hunting. The permitting decision was apparently made earlier this summer, though the agency has not been fully transparent about the timeline since the hunter’s application was first submitted in November 2016.
“This is tragic news for lion conservation, and it suggests that the Trump administration may soon open the floodgates to trophy imports from Tanzania,” said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Tanzania is a lion stronghold, but it’s been criticized by scientists for corruption and inadequate wildlife protections. Opening the U.S. market to these imports doesn’t bode well for the lion kings of Tanzania.”
Trophy hunters target mature male lions with manes that make desirable trophies. But such lions are often pack leaders. When they’re shot by a hunter, the new pack leader kills the previous one’s offspring, resulting in the loss of not one, but many, lions.
Forty percent of lions in Africa are thought to be found in Tanzania, but populations are hard to count. Not knowing how many lions it has, Tanzania has reverted to allowing hunters to kill males believed to be six and older, even though the animals are difficult to age in the field. The country also sets quotas based on the previous year’s kills, not on population size.
“As one of the original petitioners for ESA protection for lions, we are alarmed that the government has allowed lion trophy imports from Tanzania to resume,” said Anna Frostic, managing wildlife attorney for the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International. “We continue to battle this administration in federal court to ensure that lion and elephant trophy permitting decisions are fully transparent and based solely on conservation science.”
The Obama administration banned elephant trophy imports from Tanzania from 2014-2017 because of concerns that poaching and mortality were outpacing births. One prominent lion expert was expelled from Tanzania for questioning government policies and highlighting corruption. The Tanzanian government itself shuttered its hunting programs in the fall of 2017, noting the need for reforms.
“We’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it may land on Tanzania’s elephants,” said Sanerib. “This administration reversed course and lifted the ban on elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe. I’m worried Trump officials will do the same for Tanzania. In the face of the global extinction crisis, we shouldn’t let rich Americans kill imperiled species for fun.”
The organizations, along with the Humane Society Legislative Fund, are urging Congress to pass the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large Animal Trophies (CECIL) Act to ban imports of trophies and parts from African lions and elephants from Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia into the United States.
Results of an undercover investigation at the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s antique show emphasize the need for passage of S.496/H.772 to ban ivory sales in the state
Humane Society International / United States
MASSACHUSETTS – As Massachusetts legislators prepare to hear testimony on September 10 for a bill to prohibit the sale of ivory and rhino horn, results from an undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Humane Society International (HSI) highlight the unregulated ivory trade thriving in the state and the urgency for action to end this pernicious trade.
In May 2019, the HSUS and HSI found elephant ivory items for sale by five vendors at the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Annual Nautical Antiques Show, including sellers from Maine and Rhode Island. Among the items for sale: elephant ivory-handled canes, ivory dollhouse furniture, and large elephant ivory cannisters that the seller said he made himself out of “the straight part” of an elephant tusk.
The ivory sellers were unable to produce documentation verifying the age or origin of the ivory when asked by the investigator. Without documentation, it is impossible to know whether items were imported in violation of federal law, which prohibits imports or interstate sales of ivory from recently killed elephants. Under federal law, sellers are responsible for demonstrating through documentation that items were lawfully imported.
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and CEO of Humane Society International said, “The trade in ivory contributes greatly to a devastating decline in elephant populations. I am deeply saddened that ivory sales are occurring right here in my home state of Massachusetts, and that the New Bedford Whaling Museum would host an event where ivory is being sold at all—particularly without apparent authentication that is required by our federal government. The state of Massachusetts must ban the sale of ivory now and no longer condone a trade that adds to the destruction of one of our most iconic species.”
This current investigation reinforces findings from previous investigations in Massachusetts. A 2017 investigation by the HSUS and HSI found nearly 700 ivory items for sale by 64 vendors in Massachusetts stores, an auction, outdoor markets and an antique festival, including locations in New Bedford. Without a state law in place, businesses will continue to openly sell or offer for sale ivory or rhino horn items in Massachusetts with impunity.
In May 2015, a business owner in Concord pleaded guilty to conspiring with a transnational wildlife trafficking ring and smuggling elephant ivory and rhino horn products from the U.S. to China, with the value of the shipped goods exceeding $700,000. The woman was also coaching an alleged co-conspirator on ways to ship items with minimal chances of detection by customs inspectors.
California, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington, have passed laws prohibiting wildlife trafficking that are similar to the legislation that the HSUS and HSI support in Massachusetts. Voters in Oregon and Washington approved statewide ballot measures on the issue by 70-30 margins in both states.
The illegal wildlife trade is a multibillion-dollar global industry that affects millions of animals and communities around the world. Wild animals such as elephants and rhinos are killed in massive numbers and suffer from horrific cruelty. Poachers brutally kill elephants and remove their tusks, sometimes while the animal is still alive.
The legal market for ivory products provides a cover for illegal ivory products to flourish because of the ease of mixing the two. Enforcement efforts are often hampered by a lack of resources or the difficulty of visually distinguishing illegal ivory from legally acquired ivory.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service instituted a near-total ban on importing or engaging in the interstate sale of African elephant ivory in 2016. However, federal regulations do not address intrastate trade in African elephant ivory. States must do their part to ensure that their laws sufficiently protect at-risk animals.
The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture will hear testimony for S.496/H.772 on September 10 at 10 a.m. in the Massachusetts State House, Room A-2.
In addition to the HSUS and HSI, bill supporters include MSPCA, Zoo New England, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Welfare Institute and International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Representative Ehrlich and Senator Lewis filed S.496/H.772.
This momentous decision will save countless elephants from being snatched from their families and natural environment, says Humane Society International at CITES CoP18 in Geneva
Humane Society International / Global
GENEVA—Wildlife experts from animal protection charity Humane Society International are celebrating a momentous win for elephants at the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), where delegates have just affirmed in plenary the decision to limit the controversial trade of wild-caught African elephants from Zimbabwe and Botswana to zoos
The European Union presented a series of amendments to last week’s decision which would allow trade of wild-caught elephants from Zimbabwe and Botswana to zoos only if approved by the CITES Animals Committee, in consultation with the IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group, an expert group that has publicly stated it does not believe there to be conservation benefits to wild caught elephants being sent to captive facilities. The amended text was passed by a vote of 87 in favour, 29 opposing and 25 abstaining.
Notably, the United States opposed both the original and amended proposal.
Audrey Delsink, wildlife director at Humane Society International/Africa says: “This is a momentous CITES decision for Africa’s elephants and despite compromised language being introduced by the EU, we are relieved by its passing. While it is disappointing that it is not an outright ban on trade in live elephants, the new language adds vital independent oversight and scrutiny. Speaking personally as an elephant field biologist I am jubilant that we have secured this victory for all the elephants who will now be spared the ordeal of being ripped away from their families. The capture of wild African elephants for export to zoos and other captive facilities is incredibly traumatizing for individual elephants as well as their social groups. Public sentiment is shifting, and people are increasingly outraged at the senseless and cruel practice of snatching baby elephants from the wild to live a life as a zoo exhibit.
“Countless elephant experts, animal lovers and celebrities from around the world urged countries to end this injustice by affirming the CITES ban, and we are so glad that our collective voices were heard. The definition of what is an appropriate destination is key, and the independent oversight by elephant specialists is critical, and so we will remain vigilant as that discussion develops, and fight against any attempts to justify or prolong trade in live baby elephants for captive purposes. We are extremely grateful to Kenya and the African Elephant Coalition for their efforts to protect wild African elephants.”
African elephants in Zimbabwe and Botswana are currently listed on Appendix II of CITES with an annotation that allows live elephants to be exported to “appropriate and acceptable” destinations. Under this definition, Zimbabwe has been capturing live baby African elephants in the wild and exporting them to zoos in China and elsewhere.
The practice has been highly controversial, drawing the condemnation of animal protection and conservation groups as well as elephant scientists who note that elephants are complex creatures who suffer both physically and psychologically as a result of captivity.
During the CITES conference, conservationist Dr Jane Goodall issued a statement of concern, and a host of celebrities such as Joanna Lumley, Ricky Gervais, Judi Dench, Pamela Anders and others submitted an open letter to European Union officials, calling on them not to oppose the CITES ban on trade in wild-caught baby African elephants ripped from their families and shipped off to foreign zoos.
Goodall sends plea to EU; follows open letter from Ricky Gervais, Simon Pegg, Leona Lewis, Dame Judi Dench, Alesha Dixon, Brigitte Bardot, Pamela Anderson, Thandie Newton, Evanna Lynch, Virginia McKenna, Joanna Lumley and Bryan Adams
Humane Society International / Europe
GENEVA–World-renowned conservationist Jane Goodall Ph.D., DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, and UN Messenger of Peace, has issued a heart-felt plea to the European Union not to overturn a ban passed this week at the CITES wildlife trade conference in Geneva that would end the capture of baby African elephants from the wild for export to zoos and circuses in China, the USA and elsewhere.
The ban was voted on and passed by the required 2/3 majority vote in Committee I of CITES largely because the EU was unable to vote due to a procedural issue (it had not yet filed its credentials). However a representative for the European Commission took to the floor to speak against the ban, and with its credentials now in order, the voting bloc of 28 looks set to oppose the decision in the plenary next week.
Dr. Goodall said: “This is to say that I am absolutely shocked at the thought of capturing young elephants, taking them from their families, and sending them off to a future which will inevitably involve a great deal of trauma and suffering. The bonds between infant elephants and their mothers are as strong and enduring – in some cases more so – as those between human children and their mothers. To break that bond is cruel and inhumane. I cannot imagine any caring person agreeing to such an unethical proposal and I hope with all my heart that the EU will not vote against the provisional decision taken in CITES with a two thirds majority.”
Dr. Goodall’s message to the EU follows an open letter signed by a host of stars such as Ricky Gervais, Simon Pegg, Leona Lewis, Dame Judi Dench, Alesha Dixon, Evanna Lynch, Bryan Adams, Virginia McKenna, Thandie Newton, Pamela Anderson, Peter Egan and Jenny Seagrove. The letter was co-ordinated by Humane Society International, the Born Free Foundation, the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, World Animal Protection, and David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.
Jeffrey Flocken, President of Humane Society International said: “The capture of African elephants from Zimbabwe and Botswana to captive facilities is highly controversial. These highly social and emotional creatures can suffer physically and psychologically in captivity. There is no excuse for allowing this heartless trade to continue. As a 28-country voting bloc, the European Union’s vote is substantial and could easily overturn the decision if it chooses to oppose the ban. We hope EU leaders take heed of Dr. Goodall’s wise words and won’t condemn more elephant families to being ripped apart.”
Ian Redmond, tropical field biologist and conservationist who is renowned for his work with great apes and elephants, also expressed his opposition to the live elephant trade, saying: “Having studied elephants, I know how important an elephant’s childhood is – every elephant child learns how to thrive in their family’s habitat and that habitat benefits from the elephants. To separate a young elephant from his or her family for a life of social and sensory deprivation in captivity is bad for the captive, bad for the grieving family left behind, and bad for the habitat.”
At present, African elephants in Zimbabwe and Botswana are allowed to be captured and exported to so-called “appropriate and acceptable” destinations based on the annotation to the Appendix II listing of their elephant populations. However, it is under these conditions that Zimbabwe has captured more than 100 live baby African elephants in the wild and exported them to zoos in China since 2012. If the EU supports the ban and it is voted through, such international trade in live wild African elephants from Zimbabwe and Botswana will cease and be limited to only “in situ conservation programmes or secure areas in the wild within the species’ natural range, except in the case of temporary transfers in emergency situations.”
Photos, video and interviews
Wildlife experts from HSI attending CITES are available for interview on request. Photos and video of the baby elephant captures are also available here.
Humane Society International – Wendy Higgins, director of international media, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +44 (0) 7989 972 423
Jane Goodall Institute – Shawn Sweeney, senior director of community engagement, email@example.com, tel. 703.682.9283
Humane Society International / Global
GENEVA—In a great relief to conservationists, governments at the meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) have shown no appetite for lifting bans on trade in rhinos and their horns.
The government of Eswatini had put forward a dangerous proposal to downgrade protection for its tiny southern white rhino population from Appendix I to Appendix II in order to allow commercial trade in rhino parts included its horn.
Namibia had proposed downgrading its rhino population to Appendix II in order to allow commercial trade in live animals and hunting trophies. The populations of both countries are highly vulnerable to poaching.
Adam Peyman, HSI’s Wildlife Programs and Operations Manager, says “The international trade in rhino horn has been banned since 1977, and to reopen it would be a disaster for the survival and welfare of this magnificent species. So seeing Eswatini’s dangerous proposal defeated at CITES is a huge relief for all of us dedicated to preserving the rhino for future generations. There are only 66 southern white rhinos left in the wild in Eswatini, so opening up trade internationally in their horn would not only almost certainly be the final nail in the coffin for this species nationally, but it would very likely result in increased poaching in other rhino range states in Asia and Africa, as well as increased demand for horn in Asia. Law enforcement officers are struggling enough as it is to hold back the tide of rhino poaching and trafficking. To have a hope of saving rhinos from extinction, the ban on global commercial trade needs to hold firm.”
“There are only 1,037 southern white rhino left in the wild in Namibia, and across Africa they are considered Near Threatened, so defeating Namibia’s attempt to reduce CITES protections was an important victory for the survival of this species. Namibia’s conviction rate for poaching is already woefully inadequate so any reduction in protections would have been highly dangerous and irresponsible,” said Mr. Peyman.
The decisions will need to be approved in a plenary session at the CITES meeting on August 27/28.
Australia: Ben Vozzo +61 450 258 057, firstname.lastname@example.org
Commercial trade in ivory is the biggest threat to the survival of African elephants, says Humane Society International
Humane Society International / Global
GENEVA—Elephant advocates are celebrating in Geneva as the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has today roundly rejected proposals to open up international commercial trade in elephant ivory.
Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe had proposed they be allowed to lift restrictions on their Appendix II CITES listings to allow trade in registered government-owned ivory stock piles. They offered a floor amendment to allow a one-off sale followed by a six-year moratorium. The amended proposal was defeated with only 23 countries in support, 101 opposing and 18 abstentions. Zambia proposed that its elephant population be down listed from Appendix I to Appendix II, also so that it could trade in its registered raw ivory and other elephant specimens. Its proposal was overwhelmingly defeated as well with 22 in support, 102 opposed and 13 abstentions.
Iris Ho, Humane Society International’s senior wildlife specialist: “Commercial trade in ivory is the biggest threat to the survival of African elephants. So it was incredibly important to see so many African nations show their unwavering opposition to this destructive trade at today’s vote. While it is unfortunate that a handful of southern African countries showed themselves to be out of touch with reality, supporting ivory trade despite an increase in poaching and alarming transnational ivory trafficking in certain areas, at the end of the day common sense prevailed. We are thrilled that the CITES Parties overwhelmingly rejected the reopening of the international commercial trade in ivory.”
Humane Society International strongly commends the 32 countries in the African Elephant Coalition for opposing the commercial ivory trade and all of the CITES parties that stood with them today.
Wildlife advocates applaud global wildlife convention’s decision to regulate international trade in the species
Humane Society International / Global
GENEVA—The Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) today agreed to protect giraffes for the first time by listing the species on Appendix II, which will now regulate international trade in giraffe parts, such as hides, bones and meat. Today’s decision now moves forward to the plenary session for full ratification on 27/28th August.
Adam Peyman, Humane Society International’s wildlife programs and operations manager, said: “Securing CITES Appendix II protection for the giraffe throws a vital lifeline to this majestic species, which has been going quietly extinct for years. This listing could not come soon enough. CITES listing will ensure that giraffe parts in international trade were legally acquired and not detrimental to the survival of the species.
Humane Society International is concerned the giraffe has been in danger of suffering a silent extinction, because the 36-40% population decline it has suffered over the past 30 years has received insufficient attention.
Once ranging over much of the semi-arid savannah and savannah woodlands of Africa, today giraffe are only found south of the Sahara and only about 68,000 mature individuals remain in the wild. The species was recently classified as ‘Vulnerable’ to extinction by the IUCN. International trade in body parts of poached giraffes threatens the survival of Critically Endangered, Endangered, small and declining giraffe populations. Other threats include habitat loss, and civil unrest.
HSI’s Adam Peyman continues: “Although this new CITES listing won’t ban the trade in giraffe parts, it will for the first time provide critical measures to track and trace this trade, which in turn should produce the data needed to further protect this imperiled species in the future. With the wild population of giraffes having dwindled to around 100,000, in order to truly protect this species from being slaughtered into extinction for trophies and trinkets, we need CITES to update its definition of what constitutes international trade. It is absurd that the scourge of trophy hunting is not currently considered trade in wild species, despite its devastating impact, and we intend to push to see that change.”
Humane Society International has examined United States trade data and found that at least 33,000 giraffe specimens were commercially imported into the country between 2006 and 2015 and almost all were wild sourced. They included bone carvings, bones, skin and bone pieces. An undercover investigation conducted by Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States in 2018 illustrated this thriving trade in giraffe.
Humane Society International warmly congratulates the governments of Central African Republic, Chad, Kenya, Mali, Niger and Senegal for proposing the giraffe for listing and the other countries in the African Elephant Coalition for giving it their strong support.
Ricky Gervais, Simon Pegg, Leona Lewis, Dame Judi Dench, Alesha Dixon, Brigitte Bardot, Pamela Anderson, Thandie Newton, Evanna Lynch, Virginia McKenna, Joanna Lumley and Bryan Adams call on EU leaders at CITES wildlife conference not to overturn ban on trade in wild-caught baby African elephants for zoos and circuses
Humane Society International / Europe
GENEVA–Ricky Gervais, Simon Pegg, Leona Lewis, Dame Judi Dench, Alesha Dixon, Evanna Lynch, Bryan Adams, Virginia McKenna OBE, Thandie Newton, Pamela Anderson, Peter Egan, and Jenny Seagrove are among a host of compassionate personalities who have joined forces with animal protection and conservation groups including Humane Society International, Brigitte Bardot Foundation, The Born Free Foundation, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, World Animal Protection and the Species Survival Network, in signing an urgent Open Letter to EU officials calling on them to support, not oppose, a ban on trade in wild-caught baby African elephants, ripped from their families and shipped off to foreign zoos.
The ban was first voted on and approved earlier this week by a majority of countries attending the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) in Geneva, but the EU voting bloc of 28 is expected to attempt to overturn it at the plenary vote next week.
The full letter and list of celebrity signers and the organizations be read here.
Forty-six countries attending CITES voted to end the highly-controversial trade in wild-caught African elephants from Zimbabwe and Botswana to captive facilities such as zoos in China and elsewhere. This represents an historic, landmark decision for elephants, who are social and emotional creatures and can suffer physically and psychologically in captivity. However, there is concern that the vote could be reopened at next week’s plenary meeting on August 27th and 28th and that the ban will be opposed by the European Union.
The ‘ban’ was passed by the required 2/3 majority vote in Committee I of CITES largely because the EU was unable to vote due to a procedural issue (it had not yet filed its credentials). The European Union – which spoke against the ban before the vote, and now has its credentials in order – looks set to vote against. As a 28-country voting bloc, the European Union’s vote is substantial and could overturn the decision if it opposes the ban. In that case, elephant families would continue to be ripped apart, and baby elephants condemned to a lifetime of suffering in captivity.
The letter reads: “Elephants are social and emotional creatures who form strong family bonds and suffer tremendously in captivity. Captured elephants can face horrific abuse during the capture process. Footage of wild-caught baby elephants awaiting export from Zimbabwe shows calves being beaten and kicked during capture. Some elephants have died during transit or shortly after arrival. Elephants who survive the long journey into captivity have been observed living in dark, barren cells in the holding facilities and zoos, in stark and heart-breaking contrast to the vast wilderness in which they naturally roam with family groups and larger clans.”
We call on all EU Environment ministers and the Finnish Presidency, representing the EU as a 28 voting bloc at the CITES meeting, to reflect the position of the majority of African elephant range States, the great majority of EU citizens, and leading elephant experts, and support the proposal to end the export of wild-caught elephants for captive use.”
Speaking from the CITES meeting, Audrey Delsink, Humane Society International/Africa Wildlife Director and elephant biologist, said, “Elephants are highly sentient and social beings, and the loss of captured individuals causes sustained psychological trauma for both the captured elephant and the remaining family. Public opinion is shifting and people throughout the world are appalled by the capture of baby elephants from the wild for export to zoos. The EU must not turn its back on elephants.”
Will Travers OBE, President of the Born Free Foundation said, “The public are increasingly distressed at the plight of elephants in captivity and sanctuaries in the US, Brazil, Europe and elsewhere are now doing their best to care for numerous elephants that are being increasingly shed by traditional captive facilities in the West. If the EU scuppers this progressive and positive CITES measure next week it will demonstrate just how massively out of step EU leaders are with the compassionate views of its citizens.”
“France is supportive of this measure but most of the EU countries oppose the proposal although it would be an historic step forward for the conservation of the African elephant,” said Elodie Gérôme-Delgado, Programme Leader Wildlife Worldwide at the Brigitte Bardot Foundation. “We’re urging EU Member States to follow France’s lead as they have a unique chance today to put an end to a cruel and useless practice.”
Cassandra Koenen, Global Head of Wildlife not Pets at World Animal Protection said, “We urge the EU to protect these majestic animals. The world has been shocked to see distressing video and photos of terrified baby African elephants being rounded up and snatched from their families in the wild, to be shipped to zoos and circuses around the world. Elephants have suffered enough, and the absolute last thing we should subject them to is long, stressful transportation across the world, and unsuitable new homes in the name of entertainment.”
“This historic step could turn the tide on the brutal and torturous reality of the live trade in elephants. Elephants are sentient beings that belong in the wild, they are not a commodity to be traded to the highest bidder. The sooner we put the emotional wellbeing of the species before our own short-sighted financial gain, the sooner we will regain a small slice of our humanity,” said Karen Botha, Chief Executive of David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.
If the ban is not passed next week, African elephants in Zimbabwe and Botswana will continue to be allowed to capture and export live elephants to so-called “appropriate and acceptable” destinations based on the annotation to the Appendix II listing of their elephant populations. Under these conditions, Zimbabwe has captured more than 100 live baby African elephants in the wild and exported them to zoos in China since 2012.
If the EU supports the ban and it is voted through, such international trade in wild African elephant exported from Zimbabwe and Botswana will be limited to only “in situ conservation programmes or secure areas in the wild within the species’ natural range, except in the case of temporary transfers in emergency situations”.
Photos, video and interviews
Wildlife experts from supporting NGOs are available for interview on request. Photos and video of the baby elephant captures are also available here.
Humane Society International – Wendy Higgins email@example.com +44 (0) 7989 972 423
Alan Carr, Alesha Dixon, Bella Lack, Bill Bailey, Bonnie Wright, Brigitte Bardot, Bryan Adams, Dan Richardson, Deborah Meaden, Dougie Poynter, Evanna Lynch, Gordon Buchanan, Jenny Seagrove, Joanna Lumley, John Challis, Judi Dench, Kate Humble, Lauren St John, Leona Lewis, Lily Travers, Brendan Courtney, Marc Abrahams, Mollie King, Nicky Campbell, Pamela Anderson, Paul O’Grady, Peter Egan, Ricky Gervais, Robert Lindsay, Rula Lenska, Simon Pegg, Susie Dent, Thandie Newton, Virginia McKenna.
List of the animal and wildlife conservation organizations that support this sign-on letter:
Animal Welfare Institute
Born Free Foundation
Born Free USA
Brigitte Bardot Foundation
Eurogroup for Animals
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Fondation Franz Weber
Humane Society International
Robin des Bois
Species Survival Network
The People and Earth Solidarity Law Network
World Animal Protection
Content of the Letter:
For the attention of Jean-Claude Juncker, EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, incoming EU Commission President, and Antti Juhani Rinne, Prime Minister of Finland and President of the EU Council of Ministers
PLEASE DON’T OVERTURN THE CITES BAN ON SENDING BABY AFRICAN ELEPHANTS TO FOREIGN ZOOS AND CIRCUSES
The world has been shocked to see distressing video and photos of terrified baby African elephants being rounded up and snatched from their families in the wild, to be shipped to zoos and circuses around the world.
This week, 46 governments attending the triennual Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in a landmark decision voted in committee to end the barbaric practice of capturing live wild-caught baby and juvenile elephants for this heartless trade. In doing so they voiced their overwhelming support for the 32 African nations who advocated for a ban on all such transports of live elephants, and restrict these transports exclusively to in situ conservation programmes or secure areas in the wild within the African elephant’s natural range. An open letter by 55 elephant experts this week agrees entirely with this position.
Shamefully, the European Union wants to overturn this historic victory. The CITES Parties will still need to take a final vote next week and the EU intends to vote against the ban. If it does so the EU’s vote will condemn wild-caught elephants to a lifetime in unnatural captivity just so that zoos and circuses in the EU and elsewhere can continue to have a steady flow of live elephants from the wild.
Elephants are social and emotional creatures who form strong family bonds and suffer tremendously in captivity. Captured elephants can face horrific abuse during the capture process. Footage of wild-caught baby elephants awaiting export from Zimbabwe shows calves being beaten and kicked during capture. Some elephants have died during transit or shortly after arrival. Elephants who survive the long journey have been observed living in dark, barren cells in the holding facilities and zoos, in stark and heartbreaking contrast to the vast wilderness in which they naturally roam with family groups and larger clans.
We call on all EU Environment ministers and the Finnish presidency, representing the EU as a 28 voting bloc at the CITES meeting, to reflect the position of the majority of African elephant range states, the great majority of EU citizens, and leading elephant experts and support the proposal to end the export of wild-caught elephants for captive use.
It would be obscene for the EU to endorse snatching wild baby elephants and condemning these beautiful leviathans to a life of captive misery.
Humane Society International / Global
GENEVA—The Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) today confirmed its commitment to closure of domestic ivory markets agreeing by consensus to focus scrutiny on remaining legal markets like Japan and the EU. The discussions focused attention on markets that remain open with obvious concern regarding their contribution to illegal trade and poaching. In a positive step forward, Israel noted its recent announcement on closure of its domestic markets in elephant and mammoth ivory, and Australia announced its intent to close its market. The European Union stated that they will tighten regulations.
The previous meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 2016 called on countries to close domestic ivory markets that are “contributing to poaching or illegal trade.” Some countries, notably Japan and the EU, have claimed that their markets were not known to be contributing to elephant poaching or illegal trade and have held out on taking action. Under today’s agreement, countries whose ivory markets remain open will now be requested to report on the measures they are taking to ensure that their domestic ivory markets are not contributing to poaching or illegal trade. Japan – which has a significant domestic ivory market and has been implicated in ivory trafficking to China – will be bound by this agreed decision, if affirmed by plenary next week.
A number of Parties, including several African elephant range States such as Gabon, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Nigeria Angola and Liberia, reiterated that all legal domestic ivory markets create opportunities to launder illegal ivory contributing to poaching and illegal trade.
Iris Ho, Humane Society International’s senior wildlife specialist says: “It is a welcome reassurance that the CITES Parties recognize the necessity of and urgency for any remaining significant ivory markets, such as Japan and the European Union, to shut down their ivory trade. No country should be off the hook when a growing number of countries including China, the United States, Singapore and the United Kingdom have adopted measures to restrict or ban their domestic ivory trade. We call on Japan to heed the recommendation of the CoP and close its domestic or intra-EU commercial ivory trade as soon as possible.”
Humane Society International warmly congratulates the governments of Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria and the Syrian Arab Republic for championing this proposal, as well as all 32 countries African Elephant Coalition for advocating for closure of domestic ivory markets worldwide. The agreement reached today will now go forward to the plenary of the conference for ratification on 27/28th August.
At CITES: Brianna Grant, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1-202-360-3532 (cell/WhatsApp)