Call for complete ban on ivory trade in New Zealand

An environmental policy analyst is calling on the Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage to ban the buying and selling of ivory in New Zealand.

Fiona Gordon from the Jane Goodall Institute said New Zealand voted in favour of a global initiative to ban domestic ivory markets two years ago, but no steps have been taken since to shut it down.

"We voted in favour of an historic resolution to close all global domestic ivory markets where they're contributing to illegal trade and here we have in New Zealand examples of illegal trade going on and we have a completely unregulated market still so yeah, we're looking more and more like an outlier on this."

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to which New Zealand is a party, passed the resolution in 2016.

Ms Gordon said while it was illegal to import ivory without a special permit, it frequently passed through the border.

"People are quite surprised to hear that New Zealand has a market for ivory, it's quite a lucrative trade.

"We're not talking about ivory-handled cutlery either, we're talking carvings, 100 percent ivory which fetches thousands of dollars each."

She said ivory that made its way illegally into New Zealand could be sold at places like auction houses, where there were no requirements for proof of origin or age of the product.

"So if you manage to get some ivory illegally you could sell it on the domestic market for no problem at all."

Today is World Elephant Day. Ms Gordon said an elephant dies every 20 minutes, and the ivory trade played a huge role in their deaths.

There are now less than 400,000 elephants remaining world-wide.

"The plight of elephants is fairly well documented.

"International trade for elephant ivory has essentially been banned but what we do have is nations who still have legal domestic markets and New Zealand is one of those nations.

"Where you have legal ivory markets you have huge risk for illegal products being laundered under the guise of legality and that's exactly what's happened here."

She said there had been about 100 seizures of ivory at the New Zealand border over the last ten years.

"That might not sound like a lot but every piece of ivory counts toward a dead elephant so I think we have to be mindful about that global response because at the moment New Zealand is part of the problem."

The Jane Goodall Institute is urging people to petition Ms Sage for a complete ban on the domestic ivory and rhino horn trade.

Eight items made from African elephant tusks that cost a New Zealander $12,000 in fines. Source: rnz.co.nz



Native NZ wildlife could live in cities if country commits to investing in suitable environment - study

A new study from the University of Otago is calling for the government to invest in helping native animals live in cities and not just our national parks.

The study, published in the Pacific Conservation Biology journal, argues New Zealand wildlife like kiwi, bellbird, bats and even tuatara could live in cities and suburbs, if the country commits to making these spaces a suitable environment.

The study is based on survey information from 18 New Zealand conservation experts who suggested 41 species that could dwell in urban areas.

The most mentioned species were forest birds, with over half of all suggestions, invertebrates like weta, large snails and beetles, and lizards.

"For the native species, it's just another place where they can live so providing another habitat," said researcher Yolanda van Heezik.

"For humans, it means we can actually experience these species as part of our everyday life... We need to create environments for these species if we want to be able to experience them without travelling to a national park."

For that to happen, the study found the country needs to increase pest control efforts, create more green spaces and get the general public engaged with the idea of making cities a home for animals endemic to New Zealand.

The main barrier is pets, with Ms van Heezik saying the country is largely missing a social conscience on controlling dogs and cats.

"While kiwi could probably thrive in town belts and bush fragments around the edges of cities, dogs would be a major problem," she said.

The study reports 35 per cent of the country's homes own a cat.

"If we want to have these species as part of our everyday lives then we need to keep our cats inside," Ms van Heezik said.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage does not own a cat, deciding after her cat died that she would not get another.

"I think gradually we'll see people recognise that having wildlife thrive means keeping cats inside and potentially when your cat dies not replacing it," she said.

The Government has an ambitious goal to rid the country of rats, stoats and possums by 2050.

Wellington received $3.27 million in government funding this week to boost its community predator-free efforts.

Miramar mother and daughter trapping team Fiona Austen and Chelsea Wong have caught around 80 rats since they started trapping at the end of April this year.

"I've never touched a rat or a mouse before, I'm not experienced, but it's the pure motivation and it's only gross the first time," Ms Austen said.

The pair are motivated to see more native animals around their garden, and it's already paying off.

"I like it. We saw a fantail and we haven't seen many before," nine-year-old Chelsea said.

Otago University researchers are backing their cause, arguing NZ wildlife could live in cities and suburbs. Source: 1 NEWS

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West Australian pet welfare programmes get million dollar cash boost

Pets caught out in family and domestic violence will be a little better off with the West Australian government's $1.1 million-plus splash for welfare programs, animal shelter upgrades and equipment.

The RSPCA WA has been given $111,000 to continue the Pets in Crisis program which allows pets to be temporarily fostered out anonymously while their parents escape unsafe home situations.

More than $1 million will be used for equipment and upgrades at the Malaga site while the rest will go to other projects including four new vehicles for remote travel to kennel upgrades.

Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence Minister Simone McGurk said the money would go to "long-overdue upgrades" and help produce positive results in keeping women and children safe.

"People may find it difficult to seek help due to concern for the pet's safety so this program may help to save both human and animal lives," she said.

A yellow Labrador Retriever puppy playing with ball tennis outdoors in the grass
Labrador Retriever puppy playing with tennis ball. (File) Source: istock.com