Twenty years ago we might have hoped that the African elephant, whose numbers were crashing disastrously, had been saved by the worldwide ban on the ivory trade brought in by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Some hope. The ban has twice been undermined by big sales of ivory by African states which the CITES has seen fit to allow, and illegal trading and the poaching which feeds it are resurgent and in many countries once more pushing elephants to the brink.
Now a third sale is proposed, which will give an even greater boost to the ivory market. If it believes in wildlife protection at all, the British Government must oppose this, which may mean disregarding the advice of the CITES itself and even of its own civil servants. The Wildlife minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, and his boss, the Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, need to make the decision themselves: that a further ivory sale is completely unacceptable.