With Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visiting the US this week for White House talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership as well as other meetings and events around the country, WildAid has joined a global coalition of conservation groups in calling on the Japanese PM to ban the domestic elephant ivory trade.
Japan has faced criticism in recent years for weak controls over the trade and a proliferation of online sales, with evidence of illegal ivory laundered into the legal domestic market. “Demand for ivory from Japan continues to drive ivory poaching in Africa, and the government must do much more to reduce it," WildAid CEO Peter Knights said. "When the buying stops, the killing can too."
Here's the full coalition letter:
Re: Statement of Concern to Prime Minister Abe of Japan Regarding Japan’s Ivory Trade and the Decimation of Africa’s Forest and Savanna Elephants
Dear Your Excellency Prime Minister Abe:
As a signatory to the London Declaration and the Kasane Statement on Illegal Wildlife Trade, we the undersigned organizations are writing to request that Japan take a leadership role in the fight against the illegal trade in ivory. In light of the global elephant poaching crisis, we respectfully ask you to ban the domestic ivory trade in Japan with immediate effect in order to save Africa’s remaining wild elephants. Our concerns are as follows:
Since 1970, Japan has imported ivory from more than 250,0001 African elephants, much of this from tusks that were illegally acquired through the poaching of wild elephants. Japan has also twice been granted permission to buy ivory despite the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) 1989 ban on international commercial trade in African elephant ivory, which was adopted in response to the global elephant poaching crisis of the 1970s-80s.2 In 1997, Japan secured CITES-approved ivory sales of nearly 50 tonnes of ivory from Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia. In 2008, Japan was allowed to import a further 48 tonnes of ivory.
Good news: Last Days, Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow's short film on the illegal ivory trade's dark connections to terrorist groups and organized crime, has won a 2015 Webby Award in the Activism category.
Congrats to Kathryn Bigelow, Annapurna Pictures and the Last Days team! You can check out the film below.
Last Days also is a winner of The Humane Society of the United States' Genesis Award for Best Short Film.
Last year, officials on the small Caribbean island of Barbuda signed into law a sweeping set of regulations to protect its marine ecosystems. According to the Waitt Institute, on average 80 percent of Barbuda's coral reefs are covered in algae, with only 2.6 percent living coral. These new regulations established multiple new marine sanctuaries as well as a moratorium on catch of algae-eating species, namely parrotfish and sea urchins.
To assist in enforcement strategy of these protected areas, the Waitt Institute’s Barbuda Blue Halo Initiative recently invited WildAid to deliver a three-day seminar for 19 Antigua-Barbuda marine patrol officers, park rangers, police officers and Coast Guard staff. Training included in-class discussion, small group work and problem-solving activities built around operations planning, use of patrol assets/equipment and boarding exercises.
The latest issue of Origin Magazine features a great Q&A with WildAid's Peter and Corie Knights, interviewed among a who's who of conservationists and humanitarians. (Click on the image to enlarge.) Thanks, Origin!
Update: We have met our goal for the Google.org Earth Day $20K matching gift challenge! Thank you to all who contributed. While this challenge is now closed, you can always make a tax-deductible contribution to WildAid by clicking here.
Happy Earth Day!
To celebrate Earth Day’s 45th anniversary, Google.org is matching donations made to WildAid up to $20,000 through April 30. Here, WildAid ambassador Maggie Q gives you a rundown on this great opportunity. Your gift will help to support WildAid programs, from marine conservation to elephants, tigers and rhinos. And you can join Maggie to find out what animal you are by taking the Google Doodle Earth Day Quiz.