The global wildlife trade regulator ruled Tuesday to inflict a near-total ban on shipping African elephants captured from their wild habitat to zoos, in an appeal cheered by conservationists as “consequential.”
Following a heated debate at a gathering of events to the Conference on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) held in Geneva, the member countries authorized a proposed text after a revision by the EU included some exemptions to the ban.
The decision faced a strong opposition from Zimbabwe alone, which along with Botswana is the leading supplier of wild African elephants to zoos outside of the continent and tried in futile to wall the vote.
However, with 87 in favor, 29 towards and 25 abstaining, the vote for the revised text secured the two-thirds majority needed to pass.
The vote in complete altered insignificantly a decision taken at the beginning of the 12-day conference—set to wrap up Wednesday—prohibiting the transfer of all African elephants caught within the wild to so-called captive amenities.
The choice solely impacts African elephants. Asian elephants already enjoy more protection in opposition to international trade.
The preliminary CITES vote was to limit trade in stay wild African elephants to the conservation of their pure habitats, mainly ending the supply of capturing elephants and sending them to zoos and entertainment venues around the globe.
The EU, which for technical causes had been unable to solid its 28 votes during the first committee vote on August 18, had hinted it might join the United States and others in flatly opposing the text.
This prompted an outcry, with several public figures including Jane Goodall, Pamela Anderson, and Brigitte Bardot sending a letter to EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker asking that the EU back the ban.