Dubai, UAE, April 29 2015 - The Ministry of Environment and Water destroyed more than 10 tons of raw and crafted ivory during a special ceremony in Al Qusais-Dubai. The stockpile was confiscated over the years as part of the country’s efforts to control the illegal trafficking of wildlife species.
The ceremony was attended by H.E. Dr. Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, as well as representatives from various government agencies involved in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), delegates from regional non-governmental organizations and deputies from embassies who participated in the London and Botswana conferences on the illegal trade of wildlife species.
The Minister praised all parties and associations involved in this national initiative, commending competent environmental authorities, the Ministry of Interior, customs authorities and the International Fund for Animal Welfare for their efforts in combating the illegal trafficking of wildlife. He also emphasized on the importance of consistency and cooperation between the involved parties, the country’s progressive technical and human capacities, as well as the development of efficient communication channels at the national and international levels. The last point is particularly crucial in relation to UAE, as the country represents an important link in the movement of international trade due to its geographical location.
H.E. Bin Fahad said: “The destruction of the confiscated ivory stockpiles in the state is in compliance with the values of the UAE and multilateral international conventions, particularly CITES, and the commitment to actively contribute to international efforts to conserve biodiversity and protect endangered species.” He also noted the strict standards for the trade of endangered species, as stated in the Federal Law No. 11 of 2002 on the regulation and control of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and its executive regulations.
H.E. Bin Fahad added that efforts to control the illegal trafficking of wildlife species are not limited to elephants, but include all Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora which listed by the Convention. He also explained that the amount of ivory confiscated in UAE and other countries is indicative of the life-threatening reality that elephants face and the prevalence of illegal hunting which has overtaken natural birth rates in recent years according to international research. The international community has responded through the establishment of conferences tackling the illegal trafficking of wildlife species held in London and Botswana in 2014 and 2015, respectively, where UAE played active roles.
It should be noted that the destruction of the ivory stocks was carried out in an environmentally friendly process, according to the best industry practices. A machine was used to convert ivory into very small pieces, to be subsequently buried and disposed of in designated areas to prevent reuse. The act sent an important message to smugglers that the country does not tolerate practices leading to the extinction of a species. The Minister praised Dubai Municipality’s active role in delivering confiscated ivory as well as finding an ideal and eco-friendly method to dispose of confiscated stocks.
In a special statement on the occasion, The Secretary General of CITES praised the efforts of the UAE (This paragraph will be completed after receiving the message of the secretary-general, and it will be deleted if not received before the date of the event)
The Ministry, in cooperation with Dubai Customs and the International Police Organization (Interpol), has sent a sample of the confiscated Ivory to specialized international laboratories to analyze and identify the populations which the samples belong to and inform the appropriate international bodies. The Ministry also retained a portion of the samples to be used for scientific research and awareness.
It is worth mentioning that in the last year the Ministry of Environment and Water, in collaboration with the Dubai International Airport authorities organized a campaign, which targeted nearly a million passenger, to raise awareness on the illegal trade of ivory, endangered wildlife, and the legal risks involved in violating related laws.