NAIROBI: African conservationists on Monday urged the European Union and Japan to ban domestic trade in ivory in order to save elephant species in the continent.
Philip Muruthi, vice president for species protection at African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), told Xinhua in Nairobi that so long as legal ivory trade exists it creates an opportunity for illegal ivory to access the market because there is no way to distinguish between the two.
“We are urging Europe and Japan to stop consuming ivory because it also creates demand for illegal ivory from African elephants,” Muruthi said.
Muruthi said that illegal trade in elephants’ tusks puts a lot of pressure on African governments, especially in East Africa that faces a threat of elephant poaching.
“Government resources have to be diverted from other priority areas such as health, education and infrastructure to protect the elephants due to the high demand for African elephant tusks,” he said.
AWF also hailed China for banning domestic sale of ivory in its markets in 2018. Muruthi added that during 2017 and 2018 there has been a drop in the proportion of illegally killed African elephants.