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African nations urge EU to emulate China in banning ivory trade
2017/02/28

The European Union (EU) member states should take a cue from China and ban domestic and overseas trade in ivory products, members of the African Elephant Coalition (AEC) said.

The coalition of African elephant range states in a statement released on Friday night hailed Beijing's decision to outlaw ivory trade and urged the EU to follow suit in order to save the giant mammals.

"We welcome China's decisive action to close its ivory market. It is a major breakthrough in the battle to save elephants," AEC chairman Patrick Omondi said.

"But we need other countries with legal domestic markets to follow suit and are calling on the EU to take advantage of the momentum created by China and shut down their trade in ivory once and for all," he added.

The Chinese government on December 31, 2016 announced a ban on processing and trade in ivory products by the end of 2017.

African policymakers and wildlife campaigners hailed Beijing for taking bold steps to eliminate ivory trade that is to blame for loss of elephants in the continent due to poaching.

The EU commission on its part has expressed willingness to terminate domestic and overseas ivory trade.

A statement from AEC indicated that the EU commission will soon announce a common position on future actions to be taken in a bid to hasten phasing out of trade in ivory products.

The statement revealed that the EU committee that oversees trade in endangered species will meet on Feb. 7 and announce major decisions that may impact on ivory business.

On its part, the British Parliament will on Feb. 6 debate a petition that has received 100,000 signatories to close its domestic ivory market.

The African Elephant Coalition rallied the international community to support a total ban on ivory trade during the 17th conference of parties to the convention on international trade in endangered species(CITES) held in Johannesburg in September last year.

Among the proposals presented by the coalition included closure for domestic and international markets for ivory and listing all elephants in CITES Appendix 1 to elevate their protection under international law.

All the EU member states except France failed to support the clause meant to raise the threat levels facing the African elephants.

African conservationists urged the EU to reconsider that decision and demonstrate greater commitment towards protection of the iconic mammals.

"The EU and its member states have an opportunity to realign themselves with France, which recently issued strict regulations and work with China to implement the CITES recommendations," said Omondi.

He added that global solidarity is key to saving the remaining population of African elephants.

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