REPERCUSSIONS LOOM OVER EU’S REFUSAL TO BACK EAST AFRICA’S ELEPHANT PROTECTION MEASURES
(Posted 03rd October 2016)
As the signing of key trade deals between East Africa and the EU hang in the balance – several East African Community member states have raised objections and refused to sign the agreement as a bloc – has the EU’s refusal to block the elevation of elephants to the CITES Appendix 1 only further enraged sentiments, that the Europeans supported the wrong side and brought the coalition of 29 countries led by Kenya down at the COP 17 conference in Johannesburg.
Conservation sources were swift to demand that the EU, together with the US, be shamed around the world for being now the primary reason why the slaughter of African elephants is going to continue, apparently for shortsighted and probably shortlived political gains. The same groups now also vowed to lobby to bring the trade deal with the EU down and make sure it is not signed as a bloc.
The Kenyan led proposal gained a substantial majority in voting but failed to secure a qualified three third majority when the EU decided to turn its back on the proposals and rather threw in their vote with South Africa – now another conservation pariah – and her allies like Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
62 countries voted in favour, 44 against and 12 abstained and the latter two groups can expect to be singled out time and again whenever more elephant are slaughtered and illicit ivory shipments seized around the world.
European conservationists based in East Africa were prompt to denounce their home block, expressing shame and even despair, vowing to challenge the EU diplomats based in Eastern African countries at every opportunity, not something these pampered individuals will cherish. This will especially be the case when activists will go beyond words and throw animal blood at the 1.000 Dollar suits of these diplomats as has happened on other occasions in different parts of the world. This may be construed as an act of assault, not something this correspondent encourages, but will hardly prevent such incidents from happening especially when pressing charges might not be a preferred option for those diplomats now already in the cross hairs of the conservation fraternity.
Any remaining affection for CITES as an organisation will also probably diminish even further now, given that the organization has on many occasions in the past been accused of complicity in the ongoing industrial scale poaching and the illicit trade of blood ivory, further complicating relations between conservation groups and the global body tasked to regulate international trade of endangered species.
In conclusion, today the world failed the African elephants and the culprits are now known and will be held to account and when Jacob Zuma begins a state visit to Kenya this week he should not wonder if protests outside the South African High Commission will take place blaming his country for the loss of every elephant from here on.