June 1, 1997 in Nation/World

Lifting Ivory Ban Could Decimate Elephants

Compiled From Wire Services

The killing of elephants could dramatically increase in Asia if a worldwide ban on ivory trading is lifted, Indian officials and environmentalists warned Saturday.

Three African countries - Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia - are seeking to loosen a 7-year-old worldwide ban on the sale of tusks and other elephant products so they can sell their ivory stockpiles to Japan.

In anticipation that the ban will be eased at an international meeting next month, elephant poaching is rising and many traders in India are stockpiling ivory in hopes of illicitly selling it as an African product, three Indian scientists said.

The ban on ivory trading has been effective in keeping elephants alive in India, said the scientists, who released a report Saturday on the status of the Indian elephant.

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