LETTERS: Africa fights on to save elephants from poachers

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Sir: It is now seven years since the 1989 ban on the ivory trade but according to Richard Lloyd Parry's article ("Japan adds its voice to scrapping ivory ban", 2 April), the remaining stocks will last for the next five or six years. This suggests that there was stockpiling and perhaps an unnecessary slaughter of additional elephants.

In the past, ivory from poached elephants has found its way into the market and even now there is really no mechanism in the supplying or receiving countries to deal with the problem.

It is true that the ban has not altogether stopped poaching and the illegal trade, but lifting it will only fuel them. The ban on sight of any ivory transaction creates no doubt in anybody's mind that it is illegal. Without it poachers and their friends can cover their tracks.

The attempt to lift the ban would have been a little more convincing if Africa's elephant population were rising rapidly rather than the present situation of low but stable numbers.

Maintain the ban and save the elephant for posterity.

Mwanyengela Ngali

High Commissioner

Kenya High Commission

London WI