Wildlife advocate takes cause off-shore
Palmerston North wildlife advocate Fiona Gordon has taken her ‘save the elephant’ mission to a larger stage.
Last Friday, accompanied by ‘‘Gecko’’, her own small green elephant mascot, Gordon went to Melbourne to take part in a major Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species event.
‘‘He’s a Fair Trade elephant given to me for luck,’’ Gordon said.
‘‘I named him Gecko because the issue with elephants is all about illegal trading, and geckos are New Zealand animals that are the subject of illegal trading.’’
A guest speaker at the event, Gordon also took part in Melbourne’s For the Love of Wildlife global march in support of endangered elephants, rhinos and lions on Saturday.
‘‘Participants are invited to ‘onesie up for wildlife’ as the slaughter of these animals for illegally traded ivory, horn and trophies continues.’’
She also joined others in presenting a letter to Australian Minister for Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg in the lead-up to the triennial CITES conference in South Africa where the international community gets to vote on the fate of the African elephant.
‘‘Delegates from the Australian and New Zealand governments will be there to vote on some serious wildlife issues – including the call from the African Elephant Coalition, a group of 29 African nations, asking every nation around the world to ban all domestic trade in elephant ivory.’’
New Zealand and Australia both permit the domestic trade of elephant ivory and rhino horn.
‘‘The choice is to kill all trade in ivory to save the elephants or continue regarding elephants as walking commodities.’’
Gordon said that unlike New Zealand, Australia has shown some leadership on the issue.
‘‘The New Zealand government is dragging its feet, and I’m off to Aussie because they’ve been proactive and have stricter rules in place than New Zealand.’’
Among New Zealand supporters of the letter are Sir Stephen Tindall, the Tusk and Horn Wildlife Trust and the Jane Goodall Trust (NZ).
The latest aerial census carried out across Africa shows a 30 per cent decline in elephant populations over the last seven years, with the total population down to 353,000, while many small local herds are headed for extinction.
Wildlife advocate Fiona Gordon with ‘‘Gecko’’ the elephant.