A related CITES decision that has received little attention but could have a far-reaching impact allows a one-time, noncommercial sale of ivory by any African country that had registered its stockpiles by Sept. 18.
The sharply differing reactions to the partial lifting of the ban on elephant ivory trade are emblematic of the ongoing struggle over how to best protect Africa's elephants and the interests of their human neighbors.
Last June, after two weeks of heated argument, delegates at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) conference in Harare, Zimbabwe voted to "downlist" elephant populations in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe from the endangered species category and to allow each country to hold a one-time sale of ivory to Japan.
IN TWO SEPARATE INCIDENTS, severe weather in South Africa resulted in the loss of human life and the death of thousands of wild animals, among them 14 black-maned Kalahari Desert lions.
SEVEN MOUNTAIN GORILLAS have been born in Rwanda since April, a promising sign for the survival of this highly endangered species. The world's only remaining mountain gorillas live in Rwanda, Zaire and Uganda. Rwanda is struggling to recover from the 1994 civil war that killed 500,000 people. Hundreds of thousands more were displaced, and many fled through the gorillas' habitat.
MOVING WILD ANIMALS from one locale to another sounds like an easy way to redistribute species, replace depleted stock or introduce new stock. But as South Africa, a pioneer in wildlife "reintroduction," has learned, it is a complex business.
Take their experience with the lion. The lion has been hunted into extinction in parts of South Africa, but its status as a major tourist attraction remains undiminished. As the demand for lions grows, reintroducing them into parks has become important for conservation and the economy.