LETTERS: Africa fights on to save elephants from poachers

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The Independent Online
Sir: In your article "Japan adds its voice to scrapping ivory ban" (2 April), there were a number of misleading points.

Only four countries in Africa oppose the ivory ban. Around 30 countries are in favour of it and, in fact, more have become so since its positive effects began to be felt. To say that Japan "adds its voice" is to imply a growing chorus of dissent, which is far from the truth. Zimbabwe and Namibia have now lost another ally: South Africa has just announced that it will not be applying to have its elephants removed from the protected list, while Zambia left them behind in 1992.

You state that "African officials believe that the ban encourages poaching". Surveys undertaken in the past three years show huge support among African officials for the ivory ban, and clear evidence that it has reduced poaching almost everywhere and stopped it altogether in some areas. The grossly outnumbered anti-ban Zimbabwean officials are trying to persuade the world that the ban has not worked.

Your article does, however, make one thing abundantly clear. Official Japanese consumption of ivory prior to the ban stood at around 100 tonnes per year. Now craftsmen are saying that only 160 tonnes remain, which will last another five or six years. Consumption has dropped enormously since the ban.

Susie Watts

Environmental Investigation


London EC1