For “blood diamond” read “blood ivory” and it is the blood of Africa’s fast-diminishing population of elephants that is being spilled.
The scene of the latest massacre is a National Park, which is part of a transboundary World Heritage Site shared by CAR, Cameroon and the Republic of the Congo.
Irina Bokova, the director-general of UNESCO, has already called on the three governments to collaborate in combating the growing threat of poaching in the region.
Parties to CITES, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, signalled at their conference in Bangkok earlier this year that they meant to get tough, placing eight countries – both supply and consumer states – on notice to get their house in order and take the requisite steps to eradicate the illegal trade in ivory products.
The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) has a strong mandate to conserve endangered species such as elephants. Most of the Range States of the two species of African Elephant are parties to CMS and are therefore obliged to try to improve these animals’ conservation status, and maintain and restore their habitats.
If the population of African Elephants in this region were put on CMS Appendix I, it would commit parties and all Range State Parties to afford the species strict protection, including the prohibition of all taking. CMS is unique in having this nature of obligation to strictly protect species inside a country. CMS also has an agreement on West African Elephants that could act as a regional institutional framework for consolidating actions.
As a vehicle for fostering international cooperation within the framework of the U.N., CMS stands ready to answer our member governments’ call to act. It is still not too late. But it will be soon.