Ban on ivory trade a step closer

New Zealand made a commitment to consider banning the trading of ivory last week.

Former Timaru resident Virginia Woolf filed a petition for a ban on ivory trade, which was presented to a parliamentary select committee in Wellington last week.

The committee called on the Government to push for the full implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).

In particular, it pushed for the resumption of a full ban on the sale of ivory that was established by the convention in 1989.

However, the committee's decision will not directly affect the current domestic ivory trade in New Zealand.

Palmerston North policy analyst Fiona Gordon said it was not clear on what would happen to more than 700 pieces of confiscated ivory - including 80 tusks and hundreds of ivory carvings - currently held by the Crown.

"This illegal ivory got to New Zealand despite the 1989 international ivory trade ban. I firmly believe this issue still needs to be addressed, and that New Zealand should choose to publicly destroy its illegal ivory as many other nations have already."

The petition was signed by 4300 people from around the world and Woolf said the committee had recognised the crisis and the need to do something about it.

"New Zealand has made a commitment and they need to make sure they pay attention to their international responsibilities. The submission has opened the door for ongoing debate through members of Parliament," Woolf said.

The select committee decision could mean that New Zealand will become more vocal at Cites meetings with regard to ivory trading matters.

"New Zealand could choose to oppose any future international ivory sale proposals ..." Gordon said.

The Timaru Herald