IFAW: Emma the Elephant hands over a trunk of mail to the UK Government

Over 50,000 petitions given to DEFRA to save elephants

(London, 12 July 2012) Emma the elephant and friends today handed over a trunk full of mail to the UK Government showing strong public support for elephant conservation.

Over 50,000 people in the UK joined the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to call for an end to illegal trade in ivory and the brutal killing of elephants for their tusks.

Emma the Elephant and IFAW staff handed over petitions and postcards to Richard Benyon MP, Environment Minister.

IFAW has been garnering support from the public using a variety of means, including a virtual elephant march on facebook and postcards calling for action to ensure that elephants are protected.

“Until all elephants are safe from poaching and illegal trade there should be no trade in ivory,” said Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW. “We urge the UK Government to listen to our supporters and take action at the highest level to help save elephants from the grave threat of the ivory trade.”

Environment Minister Richard Benyon said: “These magnificent creatures are suffering horrific deaths at the hands of poachers, and if we don’t act now they may not have a future.

“We have funded a number of conservation projects across the world to protect these endangered animals, including Interpol’s Project Wisdom, which is working to tackle the illegal poaching of elephants and rhinos.

“Alongside this we need a global effort to ensure the world’s remaining elephants are protected and I can assure IFAW and its supporters that the UK will lead the way, doing everything it can to put a stop to poaching and trafficking.”

The handover was one of several taking place around the world ahead of the meeting in July of the Standing Committee of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Geneva. Next month’s meeting will address issues of elephant conservation including illegal killing of elephants and the ivory trade.

“IFAW’s petitions give a voice to hundreds of thousands of concerned elephant lovers,” said Marsland. “Pledges from around the world are being presented to the national delegates who make up the Standing Committee and others whose opinions inform decision making. They need to know the public is watching and that they care deeply about the fate of elephants and stopping the illegal ivory trade.”

In 2011, more than 23 tons of illegal elephant ivory was seized by law enforcement officers worldwide.

The results of IFAW’s investigation into ivory trade in China, released in June 2012, found that since 2008, when CITES gave the go-ahead for the legal sale of ivory stockpiles to China and Japan, there had been an extraordinary surge in the numbers of elephants being killed for their ivory.

“The CITES stockpile sales were supposed to reduce the illegal trade and the slaughter of elephants by saturating the market with legal ivory; in fact, the exact opposite has occurred in China,” said Marsland. “Legal ivory sales have made it possible for criminals to filter black-market ivory into legal markets.”


Notes to Editors

For more information, high res images or to arrange interviews, please contact Amanda Gent at IFAW on 020 7587 6725, Mobile 07789 551085, email agent@ifaw.org.

The photo caption left to right is “Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW pictured with Emma the elephant and Richard Benyon, Environment Minister.”

The total number of petitions includes:
12,003 postcards
39,723 petition signers

The wording on the postcards reads:

‘Dear Mr. Benyon, Thank you for your pledge to protect elephants by promoting a precautionary approach to conditional legal sales of ivory through CITES. In July, the CITES Standing Committee will discuss the adoption of a decision-making mechanism for future ivory trade. I support IFAW in opposing any measure which will lead to ivory being traded and elephants killed. I ask you to continue to lead internationally and actively encourage your counterparts in the EU to take a strong stance against this trade to ensure elephants are protected in the future. Yours sincerely, Signature’

The petition reads as follows:

‘I urge my government and the European Union to protect the world’s remaining elephants by opposing any further international trade in ivory and by taking action to reduce poaching and illegal ivory trade.’

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.