Darien, Connecticut — Friends of Animals, the organization which drafted and championed the proposal that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) employed to impose a worldwide ban on trade in elephant ivory. The ban was partially lifted at the 12th Conference of the Parties to CITES currently underway in Santiago, Chile.

Proposals to allow ivory sales to Japan from Botswana and Namibia were approved by narrow margins. Proposals to allow sales from Zimbabwe and Zambia were defeated, also by narrow margins.

According to FoA President Priscilla Feral, “The U.S. Delegation and the directives from the Bush administration see elephants as a commodity in a world where everything and everyone has a price. It is high time this thinking changed. We deplore the U.S. delegation’s collusion with representatives of nations who would commercially exploit elephants for their ivory.”

Adds Feral, “The worldwide illegal trade in wildlife products exceeds US $15 billion annually. Arguably, the current boom in poaching is directly attributable to the submission of ivory trade proposals to CITES. Dealers who predict a legal trade into which they can launder their contraband pay poachers to stockpile ivory that may be marketed immediately upon the opening of any trade. The first dealer in the marketplace can anticipate making the biggest profit.”