U.S. Votes “No” on CITES Appendix-I Uplisting of Elephants – Here’s Why

CITES CoP17 World Wildlife Conference

U.S. Votes “No” on CITES Appendix-I Uplisting of Elephants – Here’s Why

Media Statement 
October 3, 2016
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Today, during the 17th meeting of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the CITES Parties considered a proposal to include all populations of African elephants in Appendix I through the transfer from Appendix II to Appendix I of the populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, head of the U.S. delegation to the treaty’s 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17), offered the following statement on this proposal:

“We applaud the leadership and dedication of Kenya, Gabon, Chad, Botswana, and the many other proposing and supporting range states. Notwithstanding the fact that their proposal was defeated, elephants and elephant conservation have overwhelmingly won the day at this CoP. Their courage and passion have helped fuel a great series of successes.

All routes to opening legal ivory trade have been blocked. We’ve urged member nations to close domestic ivory markets that contribute to poaching or wildlife trafficking. We’ve strengthened provisions to identify and potentially sanction nations that are not taking adequate steps to stem this crisis.

However, the United States voted no, on this proposal, because it opened up the potential that member nations would take a reservation and use a victory on Appendix I uplisting as a back door to resume trade.

In fact, during discussion on the proposal, Namibia explicitly stated its intention to take a reservation.

We are unalterably opposed to resumption of commercial ivory trade, under any terms. Therefore, because of the risk it represented, we felt compelled to oppose a proposal that we would otherwise support.”