然而其他保育人士對此則大感不認同。「生而自由基金會」（Born Free Foundation）執行長兼「物種存續網」（Species Survival Network）主席崔佛斯（Will Travers）直呼：「難以致信、天真且大錯特錯。」「2006年放行日本成為貿易夥伴已經很荒謬，這次甚至同意中國加入，就我看來，等於是火上加油。」
Four southern African countries have been approved to sell a total of 108 metric tonnes of government owned elephant ivory as a one-time exception to the international moratorium on ivory sales that has been in place since 1989 to protect these endangered animals from poachers. The decision was taken today at a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES, in Geneva.
It is the third such sale permitted since the ban took effect. The 33 member CITES Standing Committee has authorized the ivory sale that was agreed in principle in June 2007 for Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The Committee also agreed to designate China as an importing country. Japan had already been allowed to import ivory in 2006. Officials of both countries said that they would monitor their domestic markets after purchasing the ivory to detect any increase in illegal sales of the valuable material.
"The Secretariat will closely supervise this sale and evaluate its impact on elephant population levels throughout Africa. We will continue monitoring the Chinese and Japanese domestic trade controls to ensure that unscrupulous traders do not take this opportunity to launder ivory from illegal origin," said CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers.
All the proceeds of the sale are to be used exclusively for elephant conservation and development programs for the benefit of local communities living side-by-side with elephants.
China has managed to convince the CITES Standing Committee and also conservation groups of its ability to manage regulated sales and tackle any illegal domestic ivory trade. The Chinese government could help to improve international co-operation in tackling poaching, smuggling and enforcement issues, and with conservation awareness programs that send out a clear message to Chinese nationals abroad that it is illegal to buy and bring home ivory from West and Central Africa, where it is sometimes sold openly and illegally.
But other conservationists are not convinced. "Unbelievable, naïve and deadly," said Will Travers, CEO of the Born Free Foundation and president of the Species Survival Network. "It was bad enough when Japan was approved as a trading partner more than a year ago but approving China is, in my view, like pouring petrol on an open fire."
Travers says China lacks comprehensive internal law enforcement and trade controls and is on the receiving end of a steady stream of illegal ivory shipments. He estimates between 20,000 and 25,000 elephants a year are killed by poachers. In 2004, CITES Parties drew up an action plan for tackling problem ivory markets, but so far, with the exception of Ethiopia, progress has been slow.
Legal sales of ivory derive from existing stocks gathered from elephants that have died as a result of natural causes or from problem-animal control. Today, the elephant populations of southern Africa, including those of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, are listed in CITES Appendix II, which allows commercial trade through a permit system. All other elephant populations are listed in Appendix I, which prohibits all imports for commercial purposes.
According to the IUCN Species Survival Commission's African Elephant Specialist Group, although elephant populations may at present be stable or increasing in some sub-regions such as Eastern and Southern Africa, the trend is unknown in other regions, and "overall there remains insufficient information to venture a current trend at the continental level."