Wildlife ad­vo­cate takes cause off-shore

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - RICHARD MAYS

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.

PHOTO: DAVID UN­WIN/FAIR­FAX

Wildlife ad­vo­cate Fiona Gor­don with ‘‘Gecko’’ the ele­phant.

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