Canada can help stop the illegal elephant ivory trade
Elephants are fascinating and ecologically important animals. In Africa, however, forest and savanna elephants are experiencing population declines due to habitat loss, conflict with local communities, and poaching for the illegal ivory trade. Canada may seem like it is a long way from the savannas and forests of Africa where elephants are slaughtered for their tusks, but there are things we can do here to help these magnificent animals and stop this devastating trade. WCS Canada has recently sent some recommendations to the Canadian government on potential changes to trade rules that could help elephants. First, while Canada does not have a large trade in elephant ivory – legal or illegal – it is important that we ensure that trade here doesn’t grow as other countries crack down. To that end, we are calling on the federal government to work with the provinces on strategies to end the trade in legal elephant ivory – ivory that was in circulation before the Convention of Trade in Endangered Species was enacted. This legal trade can be used as a cover for illegal trade, with fresh ivory being aged and passed off as “antique.” Canada also needs better controls on the import of ivory obtained through trophy hunting, including ensuring that countries that allow trophy hunting have good data to support the sustainability of the hunt. Finally, and critically, it is time for Canada to develop a national strategy for combatting the illegal wildlife trade more broadly, similar to what has been done in the U.S. and the UK.