We are devastated to learn that all of Africa’s elephants have been denied the highest level of international protections during this year’s meeting of the Convention in the Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) that’s been underway in Johannesburg, South Africa for the last two weeks.

We are disgusted that the U.S. delegation, headed by Dan Ashe, director of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, voted not to “uplist” elephants across the continent to Appendix 1, which would have strictly prevented all trade in their ivory. Any explanation is inexcusable, and the U.S. delegation should have had the backbone to make it work.

“The vote against up-listing all elephants to Appendix 1 will be seen as a green light by the poachers, traffickers, organized criminal networks and terrorists who make money off illegal trade in ivory,” Professor Lee White, director of Gabon’s National Parks agency, told the Independent. “Up-listing would have made been a clear sign to the world that ivory cannot be traded.”

We applaud the 29 nations that make up the African Elephant Coalition, who were joined by Botswana in their push to get all African elephants uplisted to Appendix I. But the two-thirds majority required to do so was not reached, with the European Union and its 28 member states (voting in one bloc) proving to be a key opposing force.

Friends of Animals will have a full report on the 17th Meeting of the Conference on the Parties to CITES in out Winter issue of Action Line. Stay tuned.