I am writing in response to your article “Britain steps in to stop Tanzania destroying its ivory stocks” posted online 11 July and a subsequent article posted on 14 July. You state that the British Government has stepped in to stop Tanzania from destroying its ivory stockpile and that the UK seems intent on supporting the elephant poaching epidemic. This is wrong and inaccurate.
The UK Government is one of the global leaders in the response to the illegal trade in wildlife. It was at the London Conference in February, organised by the British Government, when the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI) was launched to put all stockpiles of ivory beyond economic use for its members.
President Kikwete of Tanzania attended the London Conference and commendably signed up to this initiative. I announced during my recent visit to Tanzania UK funding through the Elephant Protection Initiative for an inventory of Tanzania’s ivory stockpile, to be carried out by Stop Ivory and CITES monitors, which is to help prevent its theft and as a first step towards Tanzania meeting its commitment to put its stockpile beyond economic use. This first step will consist of an independent and transparent inventory of the national ivory stockpile and a review of stock management procedures to ensure that they meet the highest international standards. This is not, as you suggest, the UK funding a fresh inventory to protect the ivory for it to be sold at a future date.
With UK support, Stop Ivory will provide the financial and technical support required to undertake this important work, including the provision of a technical team. This will include representation by the CITES Secretariat and the Inventory Protocol and Inventory Technology developed in consultation with CITES and other partners.
Stockpile destruction is one part of the EPI, whose underlying longer term purpose is to support funding the delivery of the African Elephant Protection Plan to ensure the protection of Africa’s threatened elephant populations. The UK Government is determined to continue playing a positive role in eliminating the scourge of poaching and illegal trade in wildlife.