Call for urgent ban on all ivory trading

By Mark Story

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ANIMAL ABUSE: An illegal haul of elephants' ivory.PHOTO/FILE
ANIMAL ABUSE: An illegal haul of elephants' ivory.PHOTO/FILE

Prominent philanthropists Dr Gareth Morgan and Sir Stephen Tindall have teamed up with model Rachel Hunter to urge the Government to consider a complete ban on ivory trading and to crush the Crown's confiscated ivory stockpile.

The call comes as a Napier man faces more than 30 charges of illegally importing elephant ivory.

SPCA executive director Bob Kerridge has also joined the trio, with renowned conservationists Dr Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants, and Dr Jane Goodall.

The eminent group expressed a mutual desire for immediate action in an open letter delivered to Prime Minister John Key.

All of the signatories acknowledge and commend New Zealand for its internationally respected effective border control.

However, with the continuing poaching epidemic, they are urging New Zealand to step up reduction efforts, increase public awareness and strengthen legislation.

New Zealand is not immune to the illegal trade, and authorities have confiscated over 700 pieces of illegal ivory since 1989, most of which were confiscated coming into the country. Last year, an Auckland man was the first New Zealander convicted for illegally trading in ivory.

With such indications that New Zealand has a direct link to the illicit trade and the poaching of African elephants, the world's conservationists are watching to see how New Zealand's Select Committee of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade responds to a petition calling for a complete ban.

In New Zealand, demand for ivory remains high, with Webbs auction house reporting in 2012 that prices continued to exceed estimates. Re-exports of ivory from New Zealand have reportedly increased in recent years as has the number of ivory items imported for trade purposes - 78 per cent of all ivory items imported into New Zealand for trade purposes since the 1989 trade-ban occurred over just a three-year period, from 2010 to 2012.

The Napier man, who has name suppression, is expected to appear in the Napier District Court this year.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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